DA teams up with Palawan LGU to stop squatting and animal abuse
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the provincial government of Palawan and the Department of Agriculture (DA) agreed last week to join hands in addressing the problem of the encroachment of squatters into the 2,000-hectare cattle ranch operated by the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI).
The illegal settlers, most of whom are not from Palawan, have occupied areas inside the ranch and are suspected to be behind the slaughter and abuse of cattle and horses some of which returned to the corrals with hack wounds and darts dangling from their bodies, Piñol said.
“Valuable pasture grass imported from Australia and planted in the area many years ago is burned by the settlers who occupy an area by fencing it and building a hut. Some of the squatters were believed to have sold the areas they occupied to other settlers who were enticed to come to the island which is now fast becoming a tourist destination,” Piñol said.
The conflict between the illegal settlers numbering about 1,000 families and the guards of the DA-BAI ranch has already resulted in the killing of a leader of the squatters’ group.
Three employees of the DA-BAI, including a private security guard, have been charged with murder and are now held without bail in the Palawan Provincial Jail because of the case.
Piñol said that during his consultation with Governor Jose Alvarez and the mayors of Coron and Busuanga towns, it was agreed that since it is now impossible to drive away the illegal settlers, they will be allocated an area where they will be given livelihood activities.
The DA-BAI, on the other hand, will commit to sell to Palawan LGU the young cattle produced from the ranch to support the province’s livelihood program.
Additional livelihood activities like the growing of high value vegetables and raising of hogs and chicken for the booming tourism industry of Busuanga Island the other areas of Palawan will also be granted by the DA.