THE PROVINCES of Davao Oriental and Surigao del Sur have finalized the settlement of a two-decade old boundary dispute in the towns of Boston and Lingig. Officials of the two provincial governments, in a joint session held in Davao City last week, issued a common ordinance defining the political boundary in the contested area. “The new political boundary shall be drawn according to the output map utilizing the coordinates in delineating the area to be ceded to the Province of Davao Oriental. Provided, however, in the delineation process, the existing build-up areas belonging to Barangay Rajah Cabungsuan of Lingig (under Surigao del Sur) shall be excluded in the compromise agreement,” a provision in the ordinance reads. Davao Oriental Vice Governor Niño Sotero L. Uy Jr., in a press statement Thursday, explained that part of a property that used to belong to Surigao del Sur “will now become part of the municipality of Boston (in Davao Oriental).” The exception for built-up portions is intended to ensure “that there will be no confusion in the part of the communities settling in the areas,” he added. With the settlement, 2,600 hectares of the 6,000-hectare disputed land will now be under Davao Oriental’s jurisdication.
Mr. Uy said this means the province will be getting an increase in its Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), the share that local government units (LGU) get from the national fund. The IRA is computed based on the LGU classification, land area, and population. “There will be adjustments in the IRA subject to computation by the Department of Budget and Management and the Department of Finance. But definitely there will be an increase in the IRA for Davao Oriental,” he said. The dispute started about 20 years ago when Surigao del Sur questioned the authority of Davao Oriental after then governor Rosalind Y. Lopez issued several small-scale mining permits for an area it claims to be under Lingig town. In 2015, then governors Corazon N. Malanyaon of Davao Oriental and Johnny T. Pimentel of Surigao del Sur, both of whom are currently congressional representatives, agreed in principle to settle the dispute. — Carmelito Q. Francisco