THE song actually sings “this world is not my home, am just a passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.” And this past few weeks, we have already come across several land dispute issues in several areas of the city. As Butbut tribesman leader Macli-ing Dulag said: “Such arrogance to say that you own the land, when you are owned by it! How can you own that which outlives you? Only the people own the land because only the people live forever. To claim a place is the birthright of everyone. Even the lowly animals have their own place...how much more when we talk of human beings?”
The Supreme Court has ruled that “NCIP cannot issue any CALT or CADT in the city of Baguio. Historical records have shown that these lands have been sold to various people and developers through the years.” The decision penned by now retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio in 2019, the court’s Second Division said “the townsite reservation in Baguio cannot be covered by certificates of ancestral land title (CALT) and certificates of ancestral domain title (CADT) as stipulated by Section 78 of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997 (Ipra, or Republic Act 8371).
That ruling has asserted the authority of the City of Baguio to govern its townsite lands. Finally, we see a semblance of decisiveness when it comes to the generation to generation uncertainties in the land disputes over city lands. Tracks of lands have been subdivided and again subdivided but now, the heirs of the first Ibaloys are claiming their ancestral lands using OCTs and other old titles, which many have claimed were already been transferred to a lot of non-Ibaloys. The Ibaloy land is shrinking as more subdivision developers and hotels rise in the small hilly city of Baguio.
Now come the different Cordillera tribes claiming ancestral lands in the city of Baguio which further complicates the situation. A fiasco in the transfer of lands, but still many people continue to be allured into buying contested lands and forest, deceived and sweet talked by greedy and unscrupulous people and organizations. And these is also funneled by lawyers, real estate dealers and bystanders.
The City Council has heard them. Personally, I attended a focus group meeting in one of the areas in Irisan to hear how these kakailian were duped by a group of Ibaloy unscrupulous are representing good meaning Ibaloy land owners. Yet, they have been there for years and then these deceiving personalities come with a Special Power of Attorney and upon looking at it seems to be a “bugos” paper. Yet that paper has led into payments of those who have settled in these mountainous areas of the city of Baguio.
As a Baguio born sometimes in these exchanges we cannot but say “no ammo mi lang nga kasta kalaka ti agpatakder iti uneg ti bantay, idi kuma garud ket nagpatakder kami. But our parents were law abiding and had high respect for law and order. And these settlers of just a couple decades ago have organized themselves so that they have declared themselves urban poor and later on declaring ancestral lands in the city of Baguio.
Opinions vary, opinions hurt others and opinions assert. Let it be that the Indigenous Peoples live their lives not infringing on the rights and lives of fellow IPs. We pass this way once, and we cannot bring the land with us where we are headed. We just have to use this, but in using it we should think of passing it to the next generation for their use and their enjoyment.