The Department of Environment & Natural Resources outlined its policy on handling land disputes through the process of mediation under Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2014-01 entitled “Adopting the New DENR Organizational Structure pursuant to E.O. 366”. The guidelines cover claims and conflicts involving public agricultural (alienable and disposable) lands that are subject of applications for issuance of agricultural free patents and other adverse claims, administratively titled lands where an investigation is to be conducted, patrimonial properties, properties covered by Presidential Proclamations for disposition, foreshore areas, and other types of lands the disposition of which is vested in the DENR. The DAO further states that the ADR process is mandatory and the entire process should not last more than 30 days. The Land Investigation Officer may be a designated as mediator if there is no other qualified and trained DENR personnel available.
To implement the DAO, the first batch of mediation training was conducted for investigators and legal team from the various regions of Dagupan, Baguio, Tacloban, Davao and across Metro Manila. Despite the strong legal background of most participants, a shift in mindset towards an empowering mechanism was observed. As participants were introduced to the unique concept of Values-based Mediation, they expressed how such an approach of addressing people’s needs may pave the way to increased understanding between disputing parties in their respective areas.
Participants admitted that mediation is not a simple process. The level of patience required is high but they saw the benefit of bridging people through underlying, and often unexpressed, needs to coming up with a more creative, collaborative and long-standing solution to problems.
The CoRe training programs have not just been about concepts and theories but also about building organizational teamwork and relationships. The learning experience is more enriching and fulfilling when participants get to learn while connecting with one another. One participant shares,“So far, this is the best seminar that I have attended. Usually, when I attend a seminar, I always look at my watch and think ‘When will this end?’ But here, everyday, the time goes by so fast. I don’t want it to end. I’ve learned a lot… and made new friends along the way.”