Baguio to fight Indigenous Peoples land titles-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Friday, March 1, 2013
MAYOR Mauricio Domogan has vowed to continue fighting for prime properties in Baguio City including parks and reservations that were allegedly illegally issued titles by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) informed Domogan of the January 15 decision of the Court of Appeal’s sixth division to dismiss the City Government’s petition to nullify the NCIP-issued titles due to some technicalities.
The OSG issued a motion for reconsideration on February 4 for the appellate court to set aside its decision to declare null and void the titles issued by the NCIP to the heirs of Cosen Piraso and Josephine Molintas Abanag.
But Domogan reiterated that the land titles issued in Wright Park are illegally issued, as well as other public properties such as watersheds and parks, which have long been protected by the City Government.
The OSG, in its motion for reconsideration, sought the Register of Deeds (ROD) to annotate the adverse claim of the petitioner or the ancestral land claimants until these are declared null and void by the court.
The mayor said the City Government will elevate this fight to the Supreme Court (SC).
Among the properties contested by the City Government to be issued illegally with titles by the NCIP include Wright Park, Forbes Park, Botanical Garden and the Busol watershed.
Domogan said that prior to the enactment of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act these properties were preserved by the people of Baguio and are covered by the Baguio Townsite Reservation governed by the City Charter.
He said this is also strengthened by the recent Executive Order issued by President Benigno Aquino III calling for the preservation of Baguio and Boracay which focuses on land use and planning.
The city is asserting that the claimants of these properties are not among the original, but are only additional claimants of ancestral lands within Baguio City.
The city also argued “the appeal procedure under the IRA does not apply to the petitioner since it was not a party to the proceedings before the NCIP.”
The OSG also stressed “the assailed resolutions of the NCIP and the titles derived therefrom are null and void ab initio; hence, the petition should be allowed despite the lapse of the sixty day period within which to file a petition.”
This after the CA dismissed the earlier petition of the OSG in favor of the ancestral land claimants as there was no appeal made by the government.
The OSG also contends that “the NCIP has no jurisdiction to issue certificates of ancestral land titles over lands within the city of Baguio and the Baguo Townsite Reservation in view of their express exemption from the coverage of IPRA.”
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 02, 2013.