The Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) is seeking to exploit a 40,000-hectare idle Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) camp in Mindanao for agricultural production to contribute to economic development in the region.
BCDA President and CEO Arnel Paciano Casanova said ”we are not saying we are going to sell them. We just want maximum utilization of the land to create economic activity.”
Camp Kibaritan in Bukidnon is conducive for agricultural production with its “very fertile land,” Casanova further said.
”With the peace pact signed we could use those camps for agriculture and create thousands of jobs for those living in the poorest areas of Mindanao. So those are the opportunities that we could look into together with our Department of National Defense and Armed Forces,” he said.
”We have seen one which is very big, Camp Kibaritan, about 40,000 hectares. For you to visualize it, the entire Metro Manila is 63,000 hectares. So this is more than half of Metro Manila. So you could imagine this camp from Alabang to Quezon City,” Casanova added.
He also cited advantages in converting the idle camp in to agricultural land.
First, from a cost center the camp can be turned in to revenue center ”Unfortunately, our Armed Forces losing land to the professional squatting syndicates and land speculators. So we need to help the Armed Forces protect these assets,” Casanova explained.
Second, it can assure a steady stream of funding for modernization. Last, it would impact on socioeconomic development in the area.
”Those that are unemployed or landless could get livelihood and jobs and create food security as well,” the BCDA chief further said.
”We have so much land and assets which are not being utilized and we want to unleash the value of those lands,” he said, citing camps such as Camp Peralta and Fort Magsaysay in Central Luzon.
The state-owned BCDA is mandated to convert former military reservations into catalyst for economic development. It also served as a disposition entity of the AFP.