CPLA found in disputed lots

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Thursday, February 13, 2014


THE presence of elements from the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army continues to pose a threat in at least three areas in Baguio City.

Initial reports to Mayor Mauricio Domogan submitted by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group February 5 showed at least three areas in the city with confirmed sightings of the paramilitary group which has been supposedly disarmed and converted into a civilian organization since it signed a closure agreement with President Benigno Aquino III in 2011.

CIDG North Central Luzon Investigation and Detection Unit head Senior Superintendent Jimmy Catanes reported CPLA presence was confirmed in Sitio Mangitit in Barangay Camp 7; Baguio Dairy Farm along Marcos Highway and Sta. Lucia Realty property in Suello Village.

Investigation of the CIDG revealed CPLA members came into the picture when they were allegedly hired by ancestral land claimants to secure disputed lots.

The Baguio Dairy Farm is allegedly occupied by the Mailed Molina faction.

In the Sta. Lucia Realty Property at Suelo Village is occupied by the Mark Ilacad faction who claims to be the deputy chairman of the CPLA and allegedly related to the Tunged clan in Tuba, Benguet which claims at least 46 hectares of land in the area being developed by the real estate developer.

In an inspection conducted by the CIDG last February 3 at the Sta. Lucia property, Ilacad told the CIDG investigators there is a pending case at the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples - Baguio and Central Office on the said property and said CPLA-Cordillera Melchor Balansi is aware of their activities.

Meantime, in Sitio Mangitit at Camp 7, a CPLA faction led by a certain Ryan Saking of Labnangan, Luba, Abra is the alleged leader of the group.
According to the report, Saking recruited individuals belonging to the urban poor who intend to acquire lots in Baguio City.

“In order for them to occupy the disputed lots they were required to pay a membership fee of P500 and engaged them to conduct bayanihan. Upon payment of the required membership fees, Ryan Saking will allow them to occupy 200 square meters each for them to improve and maintain,” the police official said.

There are a reported 100 recruited members who have built their shanties in the disputed lots in Sitio Mangitit.

The presence of the CPLA in three areas in the city has resulted in a lengthy discussion of city officials during Monday’s executive-legislative meeting with Councilor Fred Bagbagen moving for the calling of the paramilitary group as persona non grata in the city.

Mayor Mauricio Domgan said the local government will inform the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process to investigate the continued presence of the CPLA in Baguio.

“They are lording it over as if they have the authority over the area. But it is not a criminal offense yet so we have to consolidate the report for the police to take action,” he said.

However, the mayor stressed he is not accusing CPLA in its entirety citing several factions which have already been integrated into the Armed Forces of the Philippines or have gone back to being ordinary citizens.

But he said continued presence of the paramilitary group must not be tolerated as it raises fear in some individuals.

He also tasked the city’s anti-squatting committee to come up with a follow-up notice for demolition to some 50 structure owners at the former BIBAK dormitory area along Harrison Road which are also allegedly operated by the CPLA.

But he said they have to give ample time for some occupants of the questioned property, especially students, to find alternative boarding houses.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 14, 2014.

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