Ibalois demand payment for land-A A +A
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
ITOGON, Benguet -- Around 500 aggravated Ibalois demanded the National Power Corporation (NPC) and the SN Aboitiz group of companies to compensate them on their properties now.
These natives are residents of nearby areas of the now known Ambuklao and Binga dams. They submitted a petition to the Benguet Provincial Board that revealed their various clamors since the 1950s.
The Ibalois said they had been raising the issues to concerned agencies and the companies, but their calls have gone unheard until now.
Their petition stated that prior to the two dams, these natives resided in the areas. They owned parcels of titled and tax declared ancestral properties they inherited from their ancestors.
“Before the NPC dam projects, these people were living peacefully, satisfied and contented with what they have,” said the petition.
It added that the Ibalois then had abundant rice fields, pastureland, poultry and fruit–bearing trees. These people were then self–sufficient.
However, when the dams were introduced, many of the natives’ properties were damaged and were being used by the companies without complete payments. Some titled and tax declared lands were also included in the Special Use Agreement within Protected Areas (Sapa).
“The dams deprived and displaced these people of their land properties. The NPC expropriated the native lands without proper compensation of land properties. The agreed payment then was P2 per square meter. Only P0.25 was paid as initial payment to the land owners. This transaction is more than 50 years ago,” read the petition.
It added, “The promise for jobs and resettlement of the people were not even fulfilled. The resettlement site was not productive, some settlers died of malaria and most returned back home.”
Even today, some portions of land that are not affected by the dams are again included in the Sapa. Orders from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in 2008 stated titled land properties should not be included under Sapa.
“There is a nonstop turmoil for the poor Ibalois caused by the National Power Corporation projects. This is passed from the old generation to the present,” the petition said.
Benguet Board Member Johnny Waguis, who came from the town, received the complaints. He said he will present the issues to the officials of the province to stir immediate actions.
He said these Ibalois are under various clans, namely: Mariano Fianza, Pedro Lampitao, Pedro Pilo, Hilario Wakat, Pulido Tello, Rosita Tabirao, Jose Solano, and Solomon Solano. These clans are being represented by their heirs.
The representatives of each clan are also officers and members of the Binga–Ambuclao Ibaloi Tribe Settlers Association Incorporation. The association is chaired by its president July Lampitao and is continuing the fight to achieve solutions to their clamors.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 12, 2012.