By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — The Philippine Military Academy (PMA) hopes to expand its military reservation by 105 hectares.
Secretary Roy Cimatu of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, a member of PMA Class of 1970, announced his alma mater’s plans to extend its boundaries and include public lands situated at Tuba town in Benguet province in an interview.
Cimatu said that the area being requested to be included in the PMA reservation is still government property classified as timber land.
These areas are currently being utilized as the academy’s firing range and field exercise area for cadets undergoing military assault courses.
Cimatu issued a memorandum addressed to President Rodrigo Duterte asking the President to issue a proclamation to include the additional 105 hectare to the PMA reservation. He also forwarded a draft proclamation along with the memorandum.
Cimatu’s memorandum and the draft proclamation stated that the academy’s water pumping station is located in the expanded areas in Tuba.
Cimatu’s memorandum says granting PMA these additional properties would assure the academy of a secure water source, and help protect the area from intrusions, encroachments and other forms of “adverse claims.”
The forested hill at Loakan village, where Fort del Pilar now stands, had been home to the cadets since the 1950s, the growing number of cadets prompted the military to relocate the school from what is now Camp Henry T. Allen near the Baguio City Hall, according to the PMA Academy Scribe.
But it became a military reservation only in 1985 when the late President Ferdinand Marcos issued Proclamation No. 2405 designating 373 hectares there as the PMA reservation.
Cimatu’s memorandum said that PMA first staked its claim over the 105 hectares on November 25, 2015 when Maj. Mario Bautista Jr, chief of the academy’s real estate office, informed the Office of the President about the academy’s need for a bigger training area.
The expansion area is adjacent to the Liwliw Creek and an unidentified public forest. It is outside a property being disputed by PMA and an indigenous Filipino clan, which has been operating small scale mines that were destroyed by DENR.
Cimatu’s memorandum says the additional areas were reviewed and endorsed by the secretaries of the Departments of National Defense, Health and Public Works and Highways. It says an area occupied by informal settlers had been excluded from the proposed expoansion site.
The draft proclamation states that the survey for the additional lot was conducted on January 22-25 and was approved by geodetic engineer Parmenio Rillorta on February 5. # nordis.net