Councilor Defends Ancestral Claims and IPs’-A A +A
The Council Reports
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
IN A riposte aimed at softening negative perception the public may have on indigenous peoples (IP’s) and the concept of ancestral claims as applied in Baguio, City Councilor Isabelo Cosalan delivered a privilege speech last Monday explaining the reason behind the persistent desire of IP’s to pursue their claims of ownership over swaths of land in the city of Baguio.
Citing that the circumstances facing the city today, in connection with accusations that IPs’ are the culprits of some of the city’s woes with respect to the titling of lands in the city, are also opportunities for understanding, productive partnership and mutual development between all concerned parties and stakeholders and that his speech is to remind every responsible and reasonable citizen of the city not to wallow in unfounded fear considering that ancestral lands and the IP’s asserting their lawful rights over the same are also primary stakeholders of the city.
Councilor Cosalan further stated that to wallow in unfounded fear, hatred and reproach because of IP’s and ancestral land claims is an exaggeration bordering on alibi. He stressed that IPs’ need not be feared, hated or blamed.
In attempting to explain the nature and basis of the ancestral land claims being pursued by the IPs’ in the city he mentioned that the government by way of law has recognized the IPs’ as such and cited Section 2554 of Act No. 1963 approved on August 9, 1909 and made effective on September 1, 1909. In the said law which created the city of Baguio as a chartered city, section 2554 provides for the establishment of an advisory council composed of five members who shall be igorots as a feedback mechanism for IPs’ to understand the course of governance. He cited that the establishment of the said council is the most direct incorporation of the IP to the mainstream of local or city governance. Sadly according to councilor Cosalan the said provision of law was never implemented up to now even as the city is set to celebrate its 104th year of existence on September 1, 2013.
Councilor Cosalan also cited various proclamations by the government recognizing the ownership of IP of tracts of land which are indirect acknowledgement of their prior rights over certain lands in the city of Baguio. He also cited local laws such as city Resolution numbered 399, series of 2009 entitled “Adopting the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP) of Happy Hallow Barangay, Baguio City and incorporating the same in the city’s Comprehensive land Use Plan (CLUP) and development plans”, ostensibly recognizing IP rights over areas in Happy Hallow Barangay.
In reiterating his position city councilor Cosalan suggested that the city government will be place in a more advantageous position if it will incorporate and integrate the matter of ancestral claims and its recognition as such into the comprehensive land use plan of the city especially if all the weaknesses of the present management of the CLUP would be identified. He further added that the findings can help the government administrators in formulating plans to include some measure to correct the weaknesses so as to improve the CLUP management.
Finally, the alderman recommended some measures such as for the city government to stop blaming the ancestral lands and bullying ancestral land claimants, for its developmental lapses and instead recognized its shortcomings, formulate plans and take concrete actions along avenues provided by law. Another is for the city government to include ancestral lands covered by the appropriate titles to be included in the CLUP, sectoral studies and reiterated in the Zoning Ordinance. The alderman also recommended for the immediate implementation of City Council resolution numbered 399, series of 2009.
Apart from the above recommendations councilor Cosalan also proposed several legislative measures such as a proposed ordinance to create an indigenous peoples affairs unit under the organizational structure of the city planning and development office of the Baguio city governmental organizational structure and appropriating funds for the same. Another is a proposed ordinance declaring the ancestral domain of happy hallow Barangay embraced by certificate of ancestral domain title no. CAR-BAG-0206-041as a historical, heritage and ecological site and to include the same in the national historical commission of the Philippines’ list of national, historical heritage and ecological sites for the conservation, protection and restoration of the same. He also introduced several proposed resolution among which are the following entitled “Requesting the city development council of the city government of Baguio for the inclusion of an ancestral land zone (ALZ) and an indigenous people sector in the Baguio City comprehensive land use plan and sectoral studies”, “Requesting the Honorable City Mayor Mauricio Domogan to reconstitute a technical working group to evaluate and to render recommendations on applications for certificate of ancestral land title over areas within the territorial jurisdiction of the city of Baguio”, “Setting the guidelines for the issuance of development and related permits and clearances over lands covered by certificate of ancestral domain and land titles in the city of Baguio”, “Appointment of an IP sectoral representative in the city council, preferably from the Ibaloi tribe, subject to existing national laws, policies and guidelines as to the threshold requirements, among others”.
Other measures include a proposed resolution urging Baguio Congressman Nicasio Aliping and the Chairman of the House Committee National Cultural Communities in the House of representatives to cause an amendment of RA 8371 to prohibit the sale or transfer of “CALT’s” within ten years, and a proposed resolution urging the NCIP to issue an order requiring ancestral lands covered by CALT to formulate their respective ancestral land sustainable development protection plan as a basic requisite to any development activity including the issuance of tax declarations.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 21, 2013.