Ecija army camp’s invasion by squatters denied by 7th ID chief

September 29, 2018

FORT MAGSAYSAY, Nueva Ecija -- Maj. Gen. Filemon T. Santos Jr, 7th Infantry “Kaugnay” Division commander has denied any massive invasion of informal settlers taking place in this sprawling military camp.

Santos said this so-called massive invasion of informal settlers inside the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation is “farthest from the truth” since they are exerting all efforts to prevent their entry through the Task Force Sagip Likas Yaman (TFSLY) and the 70th Infantry “Cadre” Battalion.

Santos said at least eight detachments of these units have been set up around the FMMR to monitor and prevent the entry of illegal settlers into the camp.

He identified these detachment-locations as in Sitio Pag-asa, Bgy. Mapalad, Sta. Rosa; Sitio Alorma, Bgy. Doña Josefa, Palayan City; Sitio Cabalogaan, Bgy. Langka, Palayan City; Sitio Mindoro, Bgy. Caballero, Palayan City; Sitio Pinaltakan, Bgy. Caballero, Palayan City; Bgy. Palali, General Tinio; Bgy. Nazareth, in General Tinio, Nueva Ecija; and Bgy. Ibona, Dingalan, Aurora.

The 7th ID chief made the denial in reaction to a question posed by this reporter asking him what his command intends to do with the alleged massive invasion of some 15,000 squatters inside FMMR.

At present, however, Santos said they are monitoring at least 6,879 families of illegal settlers inhabiting directly within the reservation area and mostly in the outskirts or lying within the camp’s boundaries.   

These are in barangays Liwayway, Maligaya and Mapalad in Sta. Rosa; Bago, Nazareth and Palale in General Tinio; Canantong, Nauzon, Sagana, San Felipe, San Isidro, San Josef and San Juan in Laur; Aulo, Caballero, Dona Josefa and Langka in Palayan City; Bugnan, Bantog and Pinamalisan in Gabaldon; and Butas na Bato, Cabog, Caragsacan, Ibuna and Matawe in Dingalan.  

In July 2015 in Palayan City, it would be recalled that Army soldiers were locked in a stand-off with a group of farmers in Sitio Mindoro, Bgy. Caballero when a court sheriff enforced an eviction order directing the farmers to hand over their lands to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The soldiers were deployed to fence off farmlands within the FMMR, enforcing a December 2014 order of Judge Evelyn Turla of the Palayan City regional trial court.

Originally, FMMR which was named after former Philippine president Ramon Magsaysay, covers 73,000 hectares but due to prior changes made by various proclamations of other Presidents and the migration of illegal settlers it was reduced to 45,837 hectares at present.