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PIA Press Release

Parties in Malapiat land dispute agree on status quo

Rizal, Kalinga (19 June) -- Parties involved in the Malapiat land dispute here agreed to observe a status quo order of Governor Floydelia Diasen for them not to construct additional structure and refrain from doing farming activities in the problem area.

In an agreement forged after a consultative meeting called by the local government unit of Rizal, Malapiat Neighborhood Association (MNA), and original occupants of the area agreed to observe religiously the agreement so as not to invite trouble.

The meeting held at the Rizal National School of Arts and Trade (RNSAT) in Liwan West on June 16 was attended by Bishop Prudencio Andaya, national line agencies, the provincial government and office of the congressman, Kalinga and Apayao Religious Association, Judge Victor Dalanao of the Municipal Trial Court of Tabuk City, Commission on Human Rights, government and private media, the military and police.

It was further approved that the Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples to act as "caretaker" while solutions or a negotiation take place.

Rizal LGU earlier ordered the demolition of huts built by new claimants but this did not push through because of a temporary restraining order. Bishop Andaya appealed to sit down for a negotiation. "Negotiation first before demolition," he said.

Rizal Mayor Crismark de la Cruz honored the request and immediately called for a consultative meeting. "We respect lawful orders or suggestions from any group that could pave way for the solution of the problem," he said in his message during the meeting.

In his prayer after presenting the background of the problem, he asked that the PNP and the military to establish a detachment in the area; for the convergence group composed of DAR, DENR, NCIP, Provincial LGU, OPAPP, AFP, PNP, Rizal LGU and other members to finish their job; and all concern to continue their support.

Mayor elect Marcelo de la Cruz strongly recommended that the rights of legal owners be protected regardless of which way the dispute could be solved. "We have done due process and all necessary means to bring the parties at the negotiating table, however, the law is always disregarded and efforts of the LGU is not taken seriously by the new claimants," he lamented.

Participants to the meeting suggested for a win-win solution that could satisfy both sides. In order to give leeway for its settlement, Ruben Tuazon of the Office of the Congressman pleaded for the attention of MNA members and pressed for the compliance of the status quo order of "no additional huts is built" in the disputed area.

MTC Judge Victor Dalanao supported an out of court settlement in order to live peacefully. "Even if the case reached the Supreme Court, still the highest tribunal asks the involved parties to consider out of court settlement," he said.

KARSA President Pastor Luis Ao-as emphasized that in a negotiation, someone has to loss in order to win. "I am for a negotiation since it is the only way to save on resources and control possible collateral damage when the law takes its course," he points out. (PIA) [top]

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