The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will be utilizing a modern land mapping system as one of the means to sustain order in the war-torn Marawi City through the strategy of “environmental peacebuilding.”

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said that the DENR will be employing the use of a geographic information system (GIS) land mapping and information system that would “identify, establish, integrate, reconcile and re-establish existing technical and physical land boundaries.”

“Properties in both private and public land, formal and informal settlement descriptions and delineations in the most affected areas and other surrounding areas of Marawi City will also be included in the land mapping to collect information,” Cimatu said.

The GIS is designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of geographical data.

Utilizing the GIS-based land mapping and information system is in line with the DENR being designated as the agency in charge of the newly created land conflict management unit (LCMU) of Task Force Bangon Marawi’s Sub-committee on Land Resources Management or SLRM.

“Both our goal and strategy is ‘Sustaining Peace and Achieving Sustainable Development Goals through Environmental Peacebuilding’ – these are the DENR’s inputs to the Bangon Marawi Comprehensive Recovery and Rehabilitation Program,” Cimatu said.

DENR Assistant Secretary for Field Operations in Mindanao Michelle Angelica Go, meanwhile, said that the development of a GIS-based land mapping and information system in the area is “indispensable considering the enormity of the survey and spatial data involved.”

“The need also arises to convert, harmonize and integrate the different maps and survey data sets coming from different agencies and those which are conducted under different survey systems and integrate them into one usable spatial data framework,” Go added.

Along with the DENR, SLRM is composed of its active members including DENR-Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, Department of National Defense (DND), Armed Forces of the Philippines and Land Registration Authority.

According to Go, environmental peacebuilding “leverages on land, land resources and the environment and is consistent with the United Nations General Assembly 2016 Resolution.”

In line with this, the DENR “will be deeply involved in the settlement of land disputes to make sure these parcels of land are rightfully claimed by its owners.”

The land title issue was a major concern raised during the planning process of the Marawi rehabilitation amid the issue of multiple claimants on a single private property.

On the other hand, Go said that the LMCU will operate using a “step-by-step process for resolving land-related disputes and preventing land-related violent conflict.”

“In general, the step-by-step process begins by bringing together all the key stakeholders, including the local government units involved, formal and traditional leaders, and the parties to the conflict to a dialogue process, followed by an adjudication and mediation process that arrives at a decision on the rightful owner or occupant of land,” Go said.

“The DENR is partnering with the DND, the Joint Task Force Ranao, the local government units and the internal mediators composed of sultans, ulamas, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines chapters in Marawi and Lanao del Sur, and other respected local personalities,” the environment undersecretary.

A comprehensive planning to solve the land issues for two pilot barangays, Kapantaran and Campo Ranao, is being conducted by agencies involved in the rehabilitation.

The planning, which is set for piloting this month, aims to facilitate the amicable resolution of local land issues confronted by internally displaced persons, local residents and claimants in Marawi. ###