Originally appeared in USAID SURGE Project’s Cities Development Initiative Newsletter.
“I am grateful to finally receive the title for the land where I was born, raised, and now where I live with my own family,” said Fernando Abungan, 34, from Barangay Tumpagon, Cagayan de Oro City.
Abungan and his wife are among the indigenous people who received land titles on February 5, 2018. Tumpagon is home to the Higaonon tribe, a rural village about 40 kilometers from the center of Cagayan de Oro City in Misamis Oriental, Northern Mindanao.
About 40 other residents of Baragay Tumpagon, and 21 informal settlers from Barangay Mambuaya also received land titles during the distribution ceremony at the Cagayan de Oro City Hall. In his dialect, Abungan recalled the difficulty he encountered to acquire a land title. Abungan, however, did not give up hope. He learned about the new project helping the city government with the land titling process.
The land title distribution is a success for the city government’s land titling program, which aims to improve land tenure strategies and property rights recognition to address challenges in ownership, land use, and spatial development. USAID’s SURGE Project introduced policy reforms in land administration in the city, and facilitated the creation of inter-agency Land Management Council and the Land and Asset Management Office, to support the land titling program and formalize land tenure in the untitled parcels in the city.
“USAID’s technical assistance greatly contributed in the initiation, implementation and continued progress of the city’s land titling program,” said Reuben Bonaoy, Project Coordinator of the Land Asset Management Office.
Facilitated by USAID/SURGE, the partnership between the city government and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) enables the efficient exchange of records and data including maps and survey records, joint conduct of land-titling activities, and training of city government officials to perform duties related to land administration and management processes.
As of end of March 2018, the city government awarded 189 land titles for residents of barangays Tumpagon, Mambuaya and Balulang. Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno led the turn over of land titles with members of the council from the DENR, Department of Agrarian Reform, Bureau of Internal Revenue, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Land Registration Authority, and USAID/SURGE. Community-Based Forest Management certificates were also distributed to 68 farmers in Barangay Dansolihon. The city’s land titling program targets to award about 6,000 land titles this year.
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