DIPLOMATIC SOLUTION. Mayor Rogelio Taliño (seated with blue cap) of Carmen, North Cotabato gestures to DAR-12 Regional Director Marianne Lauban-Baunto (seated) after the successful mediation and settlement of land disputes involving three groups in Carmen, North Cotabato on Sunday (Aug. 14, 2022).  At least 109 lots were involved in the decades-old land row. (Photo courtesy of DAR-NoCot)

COTABATO CITY – Officials of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in North Cotabato have settled long-drawn land disputes involving the indigenous peoples (IPs) in Carmen town.

In a statement Wednesday, DAR Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer Charish Paña said they facilitated the settlement of 109 contested pieces of land with the participation of the Carmen municipality and parties in the conflict.

“It was a successful mediation,” Paña said, adding that the parties in the decades-old land ownership dispute included some Christians, IPs, and Iranun-Maguindanaon settlers of Barangay Macabenban, Carmen.

Paña said the conflict stemmed from a situation where the certificates of land ownership award (CLOAs) are not the actual occupants, and the areas were developed by different tribes.

“In this instance, we want to settle everything in a diplomatic way to resolve the conflict and ensure that no one will be displaced,” Paña said.

Paña said the first group involved was the Iranun–Maguindanaon agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) concerning 10 lots, but occupied and tilled by the IPs.

The second group concerned 35 lots titled to the Maguindanaons but were occupied and tilled by a group of Christians. The third involved 64 titles that were occupied and developed by the IPs but only two landholdings were named for the IPs and the rest were named for the Maguindanaons.

In a mediation conference facilitated by DAR and Carmen town on Sunday, the conflicting parties agreed to “win-win solutions.”

Paña said the Iranun ARBs have agreed to be transferred to another area within the Iranun cluster. Both ARBs and current occupants have also agreed to sign a waiver to effect the swapping of their landholdings.

The Christian group, meanwhile, has agreed on the result of the previously done a survey to identify their individual assigned lots.

“The agreements reached and the arrangements made will be subjected to Agrarian Law Implementation (ALI) case procedure which will be handled by our legal division,” Paña said.

In the case of the Maguindanaon and IP groups, Carmen Mayor Rogelio Taliño negotiated with the leaders of the claimants who all agreed to the mayor’s proposal that the landholdings involved would be divided into half.

DAR-Soccsksargen Director Mariannie Baunto was elated over the settlement of the old land dispute between the groups.

“We are very glad that these conflicts have finally been resolved. I hope that every party involved will comply with the documentary requirements to finalize the agreements,” he said. (PNA)