LAND DISTRIBUTION. Part of Camp Keithley Military Reservation in Marawi City will soon be distributed among agrarian reform beneficiaries. The distribution of government idle lands is part of the present administration's move to boost its self-sufficiency program.  (Photo courtesy of DAR)

MANILA – Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado Estrella III on Wednesday ordered the distribution of 4,000 hectares out of the 6,667-hectare Camp Keithley Military Reservation in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.

In a press statement, Estrella said the distribution of portions of the former US military camp to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) is the government’s way “to give justice to the legitimate birthright of the Bangsamoro people over their ancestral lands”.

The distribution of idle government-owned lands (GOLs) like the Camp Keithley Military Reservation in Marawi City is a top priority of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s administration, based on Executive Order No. 75 issued by then President Rodrigo Duterte in 2019.

EO 75 aims to make the beneficiaries productive and help the government boost its self-sufficiency program.

Meanwhile, DAR could not say though how many farmers will be awarded the titles noting that land survey activities are still ongoing.

“Number of beneficiaries will depend on the survey and validation process,” DAR Northern Mindanao Regional Director Zoriada Macalindang said in a message sent to the Philippine News Agency.

Macalindang said each beneficiary is entitled to a maximum of three hectares.

Estrella said the distribution of GOLs inside the former US camp is in order, claiming that this is the proper way “to indemnify the rightful claimants” who suffered historical injustices in the past.

Camp Keithley was formerly a military base of the United States of America. It was built at the start of the Philippine-American War in the early 20th century. Former President Elpidio Quirino converted it into a military reservation area on Dec. 23, 1953, by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 453.

“Land survey activities are still ongoing with more than 200 hectares of the identified coverable area already set for distribution anytime this year, under the executive order,” Estrella said. (PNA)