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HomeFront PageBreaking NewsCMU president clarifies university's stance on land rights

CMU president clarifies university’s stance on land rights

 By Bernadith G. Epan MARAMAG, Bukidnon (PIA)–Dr. Rolito G. Eballe, President of Central Mindanao University (CMU), held a press briefing on August 14 to discuss the university’s stance on land rights and the intrusion of settlers into CMU’s Field 1, Green Valley, and MusDol (Musuan-Dologon) properties.  He explained how the Buffalo-Tamaraw-Limus (BTL) and Musuan Inhabitants Landless Farmers Association (MILFA), an alliance of farmers’ organizations in Musuan, Maramag, Bukidnon, had expanded their territorial claims within the university’s property without securing proper consent. “These groups built makeshift structures within CMU’s pasture land and rice fields and started planting crops. Their forceful entry inside CMU property on July 31 caught us off guard and led to an uncomfortable silence,” Eballe said. Central Mindanao University previously affirmed that settlers engaged in peaceful farming on a 517-hectare portion of CMU land for several years because a Memorandum of Agreement backed this land claim. However, on July 31, these same groups occupied additional 11 hectares of CMU property, magnifying the complexity of land rights issue. In an earlier interview with a local radio station, BTL and MILFA leaders requested a dialogue with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), CMU, and local government officials. They argued that CMU lands are idle and should be given to Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) beneficiaries under Executive Order No. 75.  The university president, however, clarified that the lands were not idle based on the approved Land Use Development and Infrastructure Program (LUDIP). The LUDIP categorized Field 1 as a pasture for beef cattle projects, while Green Valley and MusDol served as the university’s rice farms for research and income generation projects. Eballe cited the August 1992 Supreme Court decision that the 400-hectare land (now 517 hectares) occupied by the said groups were not subject to CARP coverage because these are not alienable and disposable. The Supreme Court also specified that CMU land did not exceed limits set by Congress. When asked how local governments and lawmakers can assist, Eballe shared that CMU officials are taking proactive steps to address the long-standing land dispute. Meanwhile, as the press conference proceeded, a separate scene organized by the Supreme Student Council and the Association of Registered Student Organizations unfolded just outside.  Thousands of students gathered at the CMU campus, holding up #IStandwithCMU banners and placards. With hearts united in prayer, they rallied for a cause they profoundly believed in–preserving Central Mindanao University’s land. Their collective voice carried a strong sense of ownership and responsibility for the university’s enduring existence and growth. Created as an agricultural school in 1910, Eballe recounted that the government had granted CMU an area of about 3,400 hectares through a proclamation by then-President Carlos Garcia. However, around 320 hectares were apportioned to claimants in 1974, leaving the university with over 3,000 hectares. (BGE/PIA 10/Bukidnon)

Dr. Rolito G. Eballe, President of Central Mindanao University, briefs the media about the July 31, 2023 incident where Buffalo-Tamaraw-Limus (BTL) and Musuan Inhabitants Landless Farmers Association (MILFA)–an alliance of farmers’ organizations–forcefully entered CMU-owned areas. He emphasizes BTL’s aim for a dialogue with DAR, DENR, CMU, and local government officials to address concerns and seek resolutions. (BGE/PIA 10/Bukidnon)

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