BAGUIO

‘Respect SC decision on nullifying land claims’

A LAWMAKER urges stakeholders to immediately carry out the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) in nullifying several land claims in the Summer Capital.

Baguio City Congressman Marquez Go pointed out the need to respect the recent decision of the SC nullifying the ancestral land claims of several lands in the city.

“I hope that the decision is with finality already but this will probably give more challenge to the NCIP (National Commission on Indigenous Peoples) that when issuing titles, this should really be studied to ensure that other land titles will not be nullifying future titles,” Go said.

The SC has nullified 28 titles within the portion of the Presidential Mansion, Wright Park and a prewar hotel, after ruling that the Summer Capital is exempted from the ancestral land provisions of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1987 (Ipra, or Republic Act No. 8371).

Section 78 of the law protects and enforce indigenous Filipino rights “expressly excludes the city of Baguio from the application of the general provisions of the IPRA,” ruled the high court’s Second Division in a September 25 decision that was received by City Hall on November 12.

“When we had our land summit in the first week of November, we discovered that we had many problems on lands in the City of Baguio and even before that, we met with the different stake holders like those from Irisan and we also found out lots of problem like forest reservations that have been issued with titles aside from those having existing titles issued by the NCIP. Same is true with the 13 barangays along the John Hay reservation,” the solon said.

The decision, penned by now retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, asserted that the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) “has no legal authority to issue CALTs (certificates of ancestral land title) or CADT (certificates of ancestral domain title)” in the city.

The Court said Section 78 grants Baguio control over lands within its townsite reservation. This IPRA provision stipulates that CALTS or CADTs are possible in this city if these involve Ibaloy land claims recognized by the American colonial government in the early part of the 20th century.

The nullified CALTs were issued in 2010 to the heirs of Cosen Piraso represented by Richard Acop, and the heirs of Josephine Molintas Abanag, which the Baguio government contested in court, aside from asking the courts for the nullification of the 2010 CALT granted to the heirs of Lauro Carantes for a 5-hectare property inside the city’s Forbes Park reserve.

The Baguio government is currently preparing legal action against the dwellers of the Busol Watershed, including ancestral land claimants.

Busol watershed has a total land area of 336 hectares with 224 hectares located within the jurisdiction of La Trinidad, in Benguet and the remaining 112 hectares located in the city.

The watershed provides approximately 40% of the water requirements of the people in the different villages in Baguio City and La Trinidad.


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