NCIP denies hand in land sales

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"WE are not at fault."

With this the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples denied they are to blame for the rampant subdivision of ancestral land titles given to IPs especially in Baguio City.

NCIP regional director Amadro Batay-an told Sun.Star Baguio the agency has issued a directive to field offices to discourage and disallow or process titled ancestral lands to non-IP members and non-members of the community.

The NCIP also advised the Register of Deeds “not to allow or annotate any transaction on Certificate of Ancestral Land Titles issued unless there is a clearance from the commission or from the hearing officer.”

The NCIP director stressed before the ROD allows the subdivision of the tile, there must be a clearance from the commission.

This directive, said Batay-an, was the answer given to Register of Deeds Guerrero Felipe after the latter sought the NCIP’s clarification about subdividing lands.

The NCIP director stressed titles with ongoing cases in the court need annotations from the NCIP to notify other parties prior to any decision over ancestral lands.

After their issuance of the recent directive for the ROD not to entertain or process ancestral land claims without any clearance from the NCIP, Batay-an claimed there are no longer any complaints reaching their office.

“We have nothing to do with the selling of lands or any transfer after the issuance of a Certificate of Ancestral Land Title and for its ownership issues after it is changed to a Transfer Certificate of Title because it is the responsibility of land owners,” he said.

He explained the NCIP is unauthorized to recover lands transferred to non-members of the community saying it is obligation of the community members to have a ruling on the transfer of their land.

Not even the city government of Baguio is authorized to revert ancestral land titles to a public land or to the ancestral land title holder once it is transferred or subdivided emphasizing it is already a private property transferred to another owner.

“The problem in Baguio City is even before the passage of the IPRA, IPs here have already been selling their lands. Reason why Baguio has become very cosmopolitan and the original IPs here are no longer a majority but a minority,” he said.

He further explained IP communities are responsible in protecting these ancestral lands since they have the right of ownership and not the city government nor the NCIP.

But he further added CALT holders and ancestral land owners in the city are informed of the prohibition on the selling or transfer of these ancestral lands to non-community members and not in accordance with the customary law.

He also stressed sentiments of some IPs who have become squatters in their former ancestral lands must be addressed by their fellow IPs who resell these lands or transferring ownership of these ancestral properties.

“There are of course many who want to keep the lands to themselves and to their communities but many have also sold and transferred ownership of their properties to other non-members of their community. So it is up to them to resolve in the community,” he added.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on December 04, 2013.

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