Puguis forest lots not for sale

MEMBERS of the Sangguniang Bayan in La Trinidad drafted a resolution informing the public that no parcel of the Puguis communal forest is for sale.

"It was a motion of all that there is no lot for sale in the area," said Vice - Mayor Joey Marrero.

Moreover, Mayor Romeo Salda clarified the status quo remains in effect over the disputed land.

"For us, the status quo meant the illegal settlers should go out of the forest and discontinue their activities inside," Salda stated.

Councilor Nestor Fongwan Jr., who chairs the committee on environment meanwhile asked Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Cordillera regional director Ralph Pablo to define the content of the status - quo order inside the protected area.

It can be recalled the DENR together with La Trinidad and land claimants led by Pedro Isican have agreed to maintain status quo within the Puguis communal forest.

This means ongoing activities such as clearing, construction of illegal structures and illegal tree cutting should be stopped and no new developments should be introduced.

While the agreement was verbal, the parties agreed to seek for a formal status quo order from the court.

A status quo order was sought to ensure peace and order and prevent further destruction and encroachment in the area while awaiting for ongoing legal cases to be resolved.

The status quo is a result of a dialogue on January 12 where the different parties expressed their stand and tried to reconcile issues relative to the Puguis communal forest.

One of the issues discussed during the meeting was the cancellation of a land title named under Evaristo Tiotioen covering 9.2757 hectares within the communal forest and the reversion of its classification into forestland.

The title issued to Tiotioen was a subject of a case filed before the Regional Trial Court in the past which was annulled. Subsequently, the Land Registration Authority issued a title named under the Republic in the Philippines in 2011.

Apart from the earlier mentioned, three lots with land areas of 41,541 square meters; 123,938 square meters (Lot 1); and 56,566 square meters (Lot 2) are also being claimed by the heirs of Tiotioen. Their claims over Lot 1 and 2 are being contested making them subjects of pending cases before the Court of Appeals.

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