LOTS RETURNED. Department of National Defense (DND) officer in charge Undersecretary Jose Faustino Jr. (2nd from left), AFP chief of staff Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro (2nd from right), and Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia (center) lead the ceremonial turnover of 16 parcels of land to Cebu’s provincial government at the Provincial Capitol on Monday (Oct. 3, 2022). The AFP and DND returned to the provincial government 16 parcels of land, which are part of the lands donated by the province to the military in 1959. (Photo courtesy of AFP)

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) formally returned 16 parcels of land to Cebu’s provincial government.

AFP chief of staff Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro, and DND officer in charge Undersecretary Jose Faustino Jr. graced the event at the Provincial Capitol’s Social Hall in Cebu City on Monday.

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia presided over the ceremonial turnover and the signing of the deed of conveyance. She was joined by Vice Governor Hilario Davide III and Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.

In a statement Tuesday, Bacarro said the ceremonial turnover of the expropriated lots shows the "noble intent" of the DND and the AFP to abide by the 2019 Supreme Court decision, which ordered them to hand over the possession, administration, and control of the donated lots back to Cebu’s provincial government.

“The turn of events leading to the series of engagements between the DND, AFP, and the Cebu provincial government highlighted the strong teamwork of our agencies and the diplomatic approach that we all espouse in deliberating the available courses of actions in order to achieve a mutually-beneficial result,” he added.

In 1959, the province donated lots to the AFP to be used specifically for military purposes.

The donation consisted of 47 parcels of land with a total area of 806,943 square meters to be used by the 3rd Military Area, now known as the Visayas Command (Viscom), for battalion combat teams, military exercises, camps, and offices.

The donation came with the condition that in case the lands are used other than for military purposes, they shall be reverted to the provincial government.

The recovery of these parcels of land went through a long process that began 12 years ago.

“Our eagerness to work with the provincial government is founded not only on respect for the rule of law or compliance with the decision of the Supreme Court but also on our fervent desire to cultivate a solid relationship for the benefit of everyone, especially the local communities directly impacted by the situation,” Faustino said.

Bacarro said the AFP looks forward to strengthening the continuing partnership between the AFP and the local government in serving the best interest of the people of Cebu.

“Rest assured that the AFP through the Visayas Command, shall remain as your reliable, credible, and highly capable partner in protecting the peace and facilitating development in your communities,” he added. (PNA)