BAGUIO CITY – The city government recognizes the existence of legitimate ancestral land claims by indigenous peoples living in the different parts of the city pursuant to the pertinent provisions of Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA),
Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan said that while it is true that the city will continue to be governed by its century-old Charter and that all lands will remain under its townsite reservation, prior vested rights recognized by competent courts and quasai-judicial bodies before the effectivity of the law on November 1997 will remain valid.
He explained that vested rights include, ancestral land claims, road-right-of-way river easements among others that is why those who are found to have encroached on such vested rights for the benefit of the legitimate claimants.
“While we are restricted from our law practice, we continue to provide legal advises to our legitimate ancestral land claimants, especially to our fellow Ibalois, who frequently visit us to solicit our opinion on how to proceed with their claims among other related issues,” Domogan stressed.
It can be recalled that the city objected to the issuance of certificates of ancestral land titles (CALTs) to portions of the Forbes Park, Wright Park forest reservations, the Loakan airport area and the Bureau of Animal Industry within the Baguio Dairy Farm considering that most of the CALTs that were issued were not part of the Igorot claims recognized by the courts and quasai-judicial bodies before the effectivity of the IPRA.
According to him, even in the proposed amendments to the century-old Charter of the city, one of the salient provisions incorporated in the proposed law is the recognition of the legitimate ancestral land claims pursuant to the provisions of IPRA among other related laws.
He said that what is important now is the close coordination between the city NCIP so that ancestral land applicants will be appropriately screened in order to ascertain whether or not their applications fall within the vested rights that were recognized by the courts and quasai-judicial bodies before the effectivity of IPRA.
Further, he added the passage of the necessary amendments to the City Charter will put an end to the city’s land woes because it will be able to solve the existing boundary dispute between the city and the neighboring Tuba municipality, identify alienable and disposable lands and put in order to classification of lands in the different parts of the city as well as how the same will be disposed.
Domogan called on individuals wanting to purchase lands in the different barangays to first verify and validate the status of the lands they intend to buy before releasing the necessary payments required from them so that they can be updated on what will be the status of the properties that they want to own to prevent further complications in the future.
Under the old City Charter, the lands in the city are within in the townsite reservations and the disposal of the alienable and disposable lands is through the townsite sales application filed with the AO 504 clearing committee./Dexter A. See