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Land reclassification eyed for ship recycling facility


By Mark L. Garcia

Bacolod City — The Negros Occidental provincial board is deliberating on reclassifying 282 hectares in Hinobaan, Negros Occidental, as a site for a $300-million ship recycling facility.

The proposed site was the former lumber yard of the defunct Insular Lumber Company.

Hinobaan is the southernmost town of Negros Occidental.

The shipbuilding facility of the Tsuneishi Heavy Industries will take up 100 hectares of the 282 ha being considered for reclassification as an industrial zone. Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., expects the company to begin construction of the facility next year.

Hinobaan Mayor Ernesto Estrao said the project will create from 5,000 to 10,000 jobs.

A public hearing was held last Wednesday at the provincial capitol to present the plea of the Hinobaan government to reclassify the Insular Lumber Corporation property.

Some areas to be reclassified are under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, and that could present problems.

Based on the record of the Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Office, Negros Occidental 2, around 122 has. are under CARP, which has already distributed 135 Certificates of Land Ownership Awards covering 44.23 has.

Estrao said the 249 households that will be affected by the project will be relocated to the border of barangays Bacuyangan and 2.

“We have already purchased a land and P20 million was already paid for it,” he said, adding that the 14-hectare resettlement area will be divided into 200 square meters for each household.

No representatives from the affected individuals attended Wednesday’s hearing.

During the hearing, PARP Officer for Negros Occidental 2 (South) Lucresia Taberna said they will continue to distribute CLOAs in the area until the 122 hectares are fully covered.

“We have the basic documents like titles, tax declarations and sketch plans of the land coverage and in our record, the Bureau of Internal Revenue was declared as the new assignee of the property,” Taberna said.

Estrao said that aside from BIR, the local and provincial government also have the right to own the land and it is not possible to distribute land classified as an industrial zone as indicated by the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board records.

“Up to today, around 107 hectares are considered an industrial zone in that area,” he said.

Taberna said it must be established that it is an industrial zone through a certificate from HLURB.

“But we need proof that it is still an industrial zone as, in my recent visit to the area, most of the lands were already planted to rice and sugarcane,” Taberna said.

Board Member Jose Maria Alonso, who chairs the Committee on Public Works, Housing and Land Use and who presided the hearing, said that through the hearing, the board could have a clearer understanding of the issue.

Alonso said the provincial government acknowledges the benefits that the industrial zone will bring.

“As the mayor (Estrao) said, this is a dream of Hinobaan people and the province. It will create more opportunities for us,” he said.

Civic organizations in Barangay Bacuyangan have asked the provincial government to be transparent in implementing the project and to conduct more consultations with the community, especially regarding the ship recycling facility.

The ILCO Agrarian Reform Farmers and Farmworkers Association Chairman Jocelyn Callope said they were always bypassed by the government in implementing projects in the area.

“We want that the provincial government officials go here and see our situation and hear the sentiments of the people, through conducting series of consultations with us,” Callope said. “We feel deprived of our rights and we hope that the government will be more transparent to us.”

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