THE issuance of a Certificate of Ancestral Land Title to the heirs of Lauro Carantes is due to the negligence of the City Government, said lawyers representing the Carantes family.
The lawyers maintain that the issuance of the titles went through the legal and lengthy process with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). The titles could no longer be annulled, they said.
The allegation of negligence stemmed from the City Government’s absence of opposition to the titling when this was published in the Official Gazette.
Lawyers Edgar Avila and John Libiran said the City Government should stop installing tarpaulin markers along South Drive.
The signs, which bear the signature of Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr., warn the public not to buy properties along the Forbes Park reservation in South Drive for titles to these properties have been fraudulently issued.
The Carantes heirs said the signs contain irresponsible allegations and vilified one of the original tribes, clans and inhabitants of Baguio.
The Carantes counsels added that the City Government has not presented documentary proof on allegations of fraud.
“Suspicion and opinion, no matter how strong, remains a suspicion. It is no proof at all. It cannot take the place of evidence. The announcement in tarpaulins aside from casting aspersion to the heirs is defamatory and libelous,” the lawyers said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the City Government through lawyer Melchor Carlos Rabanes, officer-in-charge of the City Legal Office, said it was not remiss in protecting the interests of the city.
Rabanes said opposition to the titling of the Forbes reservation to private claimants is lodged with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), “it being the agency vested with the duty of protecting parks and other reservations.”
He also said the complaint filed in the Office of the Ombudsman against commissioners of the NCIP and the nullification of those titles is “sentiments of the people of Baguio.”
Rabanes said the mayor need not present testimonial evidence for there is a proclamation declaring Forbes as a forest and watershed reservation and public interest takes precedence over private claims.
Meanwhile, the heirs called on the mayor to investigate the restaurant and hotel operated by his relatives within the Forbes Park Reservation.
The restaurant referred to is Iggys Inn, along South Drive.
In a text message, the mayor said the issue has no connection with the claims being questioned. (Rimaliza Opiña)