FORT Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija -- The military is currently working out with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Land Registration Authority for the conduct of survey and the entitlement of the remaining land area belonging to the military reservation here which was named after the late President Ramon Magsaysay.
Seventh Infantry Division commanding-general Maj. Gen. Filemon T. Santos Jr. said these efforts were made to address the massive reduction of the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation (FMMR) which has shrunk from the original 73,000 hectares to some 45,837 hectares now.
Santos said one such measure is the conduct of survey on the remaining 45,837 hectares in order to locate the “metes and bounds” or boundaries of the whole FMMR. This came about after the “Relocation Survey Plan” of the whole 73,000 hectares was approved by the DENR Region III last June 25, 2018, he said.
Another measure, Santos said is the entitlement of the FMMR’s remaining 45,837 hectares by the LRA and the DENR for the complete land ownership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Department of National Defense.
These were being done to preserve the territorial jurisdiction and integrity of the FMMR, said Lt. Col. Eugenio Julio C. Osias IV, acting commanding officer of the Civil-Military Operations Battalion (CMOBn).
The FMMR is home to the 7th ID, also known as the “Kaugnay Division”, which has administrative and operational jurisdiction over soldiers deployed in eight provinces in Northern and Central Luzon.
It hosts three infantry brigades, namely the 701st, 702nd and 703rd, and nine infantry battalions, as well as the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and the Training and Doctrines Command (Tradoc).
Originally, it covers 73,000 hectares of public land used for military purposes, straddling across 26 barangays situated in the five towns of General Tinio, Sta. Rosa, Peñaranda, Laur and Gabaldon and Palayan City, all in Nueva Ecija, and in Dingalan, Aurora.
Fort Magsaysay was proclaimed a military reservation by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 237 issued on Dec. 19, 1955 by then President Magsaysay.
But the camp’s land size shrunk due to the issuance of various presidential proclamations. Magsaysay himself started the proclamation binge by issuing Presidential Proclamation 605 on July 27, 1959, segregating 2,018 hectares and 13,482 hectares for the Minalungao National Park and Minalungao Forest Reserve, respectively.
On June 26, 1969, then President Ferdinand Marcos issued Presidential Proclamation 573 allocating 14,887.71 hectares for the Peñaranda Forest Reserve.
During the term of his successor, former President Corazon Aquino, a 5,200-hectare area was converted into the Doña Remedios Trinidad-Gen. Tinio watershed, by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 230 on March 23,1988.
Mrs. Aquino also came out with Presidential Proclamation 709 on March 26,1991, turning 197 hectares into Barangay Militar.
An executive order from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), numbered 448, also excluded 3,100 hectares in the Laur portion of the reservation for Pinatubo families.
To also address the problem, Santos said they are coordinating with concerned local government units and stakeholders in the adjacent towns and barangays situated along the boundaries of the FMMR’s Combat Readiness Training Area (CRTA).
He said they cited the importance of the CRTA since this is being utilized for local military and bilateral training exercises aimed to hone and sharpen the defense capabilities of the soldiers to become a world-class Army.