DENR says: Aguirangan Island has no owner

By Paulo DS. Papa


The Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recently declared that the disputed Rose Island, locally known as Aguirangan Island, in Barangay Maangas, Presentacion, Camarines Sur, has no assigned lot number and considered as unclassified public forest.


Thus parties who are allegedly claiming ownership or title over the island cannot possess title over it according to the DENR Bicol regional office.


To recall, the Supreme Court (SC) in a unanimous en banc resolution in a similar issue, stated that unclassified public lands are forest lands that cannot be alienated or disposed.


Rolly Villanueva, ex-barangay captain of Maangas in Presentacion town and former caretaker of the island, revealed that the Villafuertes grabbed possession of Aguirangan Island.


Villanueva said the island is now being secured by armed guarded from Naga City.


He said he wrote the DENR about it and he received a reply from the CENRO last year stating that the island is an unclassified public forest without any title or assigned lot number and the state shall remain the owner of the island.


“Ngunyan nakua na an katotohanan, ano na an ginibo ninda? May bantay nang taga-Naga digdi. Dae ko aram may mga badil daa diyan. Arog kaiyan an nadadangog kong istoriya digdi,” Villanueva said.


He said the Presentacion local government is already aware of the situation, however, it is not doing anything about the issue.


The DENR letter dated Feb. 5, 2020 addressed to Villanueva and signed by CENRO Daisy M. Terciano, stated that the forest of the island may be used for tourism purposes thru Forest Land Agreement for Tourism, a tenurial instrument or agreement granted by the DENR.


A DENR memorandum sent to the CENRO on Oct. 7, 2019 also stated that claimants Margarito de Mesa, Raymundo and Rolly Villanueva could not show any documents to support their claim of ownership over the area, while Atty. Luis Villafuerte, allegedly purchased the island from an unnamed vendor in 1982. Since then, Villafuerte has been paying the real estate taxes for the property. (With reports of Joe Caguimbal)