House sets probe on land titles

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014


THE House of Representatives committee on indigenous peoples will launch an investigation into the questionable land titles issued by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in Baguio City.

The committee hearing is scheduled on February 12.

In a letter to Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan dated February 3, committee chairperson North Cotabato Representative Nancy Catamco requested the City Government to provide the local government's comment or position paper on the controversial issue of ancestral lands in the city.

Other invited guests include Department of Agriculture Regional Director Marilyn Sta. Catalina, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Director Paquito Moreno, Department of Transportation and Communication Celina Claver and NCIP Chairperson Leonor Oralde-Quintayo.

Baguio Representative Nicasio Aliping Jr. filed Resolution 419 on October 22 directing the House committee on indigenous peoples to probe on titles issued by the NCIP, saying there may be blatant deviation from the basic concepts of ancestral lands and ancestral domains on lands issued by the commission.

The resolution said several Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADTs) and Certificates of Ancestral Land Titles (CALTs) issued by the NCIP have taken the concept of ownership of land, which may be sold, transferred, conveyed in exchange for valuable consideration.

In Baguio City alone, the lawmaker claimed CALTS and CADTs were issued on government properties, public places, reservations without notice to the City Government or the DENR regional office.

Among the government properties cited by the Aliping include portions of Wright Park now covered by 29 Transfer Certificate of Tiles, Forbes Park and Teacher’s Camp reservations covered by three TCTs, Philippine Military Academy and Loakan Airport Airstrip covered by six TCTs, Baguio Dairy Farm covered by six TCTs and Casa Vallejo, which was nominated as a heritage site before the National Historical Commission covered by eight TCTs.

"Transfers and conveyances of CALTs and CADTs for valuable consideration render useless the very purpose for which they are issued and deliberately digress from the indigenous concept of ownership of ancestral lands and domains," Aliping said.

The representative's resolution also highlighted Section 5 of Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous People's Rights Act, which provides the indigenous concept of ownership generally, holds that ancestral domains are the Indigenous People's private but community property belonging to all generations and therefore cannot be sold, disposed or destroyed.

In Monday's executive-legislative session, Domogan tasked the City Legal Office to draft the city's position paper on the issuance of CALTs on forest reservations, parks and heritage sites in the city.

Domogan also welcomed the recent pronouncement of the NCIP to halt issuance of titles in the city until there is a resolution on the questionable CALTs issued in forest reserves and parks in the city.

The mayor said while the City Government is not opposed to the issuance of legitimate titles by the NCIP, a deeper probe on some questionable titles must be conducted by the agency to remove doubts of possible collusion of government officials with claimants.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 06, 2014.

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