Lower court clears La Trinidad officials

THE Regional Trial Court Branch 62 dismissed the petition for prohibition and injunction filed by Evaristo Tiotioen heirs against La Trinidad, Benguet officials for lack of merit over the use of a portion of land at the Puguis Communal Forest.

Mayor Romeo Salda, Municipal Environment and Natural Resources officer designate Arthur Pedro, and Municipal Engineer Benedict Pineda was cleared by the court from inspecting a property claimed by the Tiotioen heirs as theirs.

To recall, Salda issued a memorandum in 2018 to prevent any further construction in the Puguis Communal Forest including the confiscation of all materials relative to the activities in the communal forest.

Tiotioen heirs namely Eldefonso Tiotioen, Nancy Ogoy and Heirs Filomena Tiotioen Dulnuan represented by Joel Ogoy and Gretchen Fagyan in a petition, asked the court to bit allow town officials from implementing the memorandum with the claim that it is their property.

But in an 8-page decision penned by RTC Branch 62 Judge Danilo Camacho, he said the Tiotioen heirs claim of ownership to the property “appears unfounded” and “without basis.”

“To expressly and unequivocally answer the rule on said issue, this court finds no basis to entertain and grant this petition. Reason: the petitioners are not really the owners of the properties as they claimed in their petition. Consequently, not being the owners, the lands not having declared as alienable and disposable part of the public domain, it never ceased to be part of the property of the Government of the Philippines. The alleged open, public, notorious possession of the petitioners and their predecessors in interest of the properties since 1929, in the concept of the owner, cannot ripen into and validate their claim of ownership over the same,” said the decision.

The property being claimed by the petitioners have a land area of 123,938 square meters (Lot 1) and 56,566 square meters (Lot 2).

Camacho further said that for such possession of public land to be able to ripen into ownership, the requirements of the law must be present.

“Most important of which is that the land must be declared by the government itself to be alienable and disposable. (And) Such requirement, together with the other requirements under P.D. 1529 is absent,” the decision reads.

The decision also stated the memorandum released by the local government remain valid, “it being for the protection and preservation of existing government property and public domain.”


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