Domogan worried by NCIP titles-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Sunday, March 10, 2013
“THE issuance of ancestral land titles in the few remaining forested areas is the city’s most serious problem with regards to the environment,” said Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan.
He said the issuance of ancestral land titles for Baguio’s remaining watersheds and forested areas could spell doom for its crucially dwindling resources.
Among those prime properties, which also host the remaining forest cover of the city issued titles by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIPs), include the Botanical Garden, Wright Park, Forbes Park and the Busol watershed, the mayor said.
Domogan said the NCIP and the City Government must protect the said areas since injunctions favoring ancestral land claimants have resulted to the delays in the demolition of illegal structures in these areas.
“If they see that these building do not have permits and are illegal structures they should not issue an injunction and instead work together with the city government in removing these illegal structures,” he said.
In Forbes Park alone, he said, there are thousands of trees that may be affected by development after these forested lands were given ancestral land titles by the NCIP.
Forbes Park is now the center of the ongoing case by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) at the Court of Appeals in contesting these supposedly illegally issued titles, Domogan added.
But the case was recently dismissed by the Court of Appeals due to technicalities ruling the OSG did not exhaust all administrative remedies, such as contesting these titles, against the NCIP.
NCIP, he said, has the authority to revoke the ancestral land titles it initially issued within a period of one year.
Domogan said by the time the OSC filed these cases, the one-year contention period has lapsed and there was no recourse for them but to file for a case in the Court of Appeals (CA).
He said the OSG has now filed a motion for reconsideration with the CA and will not be surprised if these cases reach the Supreme Court.
“We do not blame the Solgen (Solicitor General) that these cases were dismissed on a technicality as they have been doing everything to advance them,” he said.
“[But] we should not sacrifice the merits of the case based only on technical grounds,” he said.
The mayor has received reports that several ancestral land claimants have already sold these forested lands to developers, reason why the city government must take a hard stance to protect the remaining forest covers in Baguio.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 11, 2013.