BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP-CAR) announced the moratorium for the processing of pending applications for the issuance of Certificates of Ancestral Land Titles (CALTs) was lifted that will pave the way for the agency to evaluate existing CALT applications that will result to the subsequent issuance of CALTs to qualified applicants.
Lawyer Roland Calde, NCIP-CAR regional director, revealed agency officials and employees already started processing pending CALT applications after the Commission en banc lifted the moratorium imposed on the CALT processing due to alleged anomalies in the issuance of such titles to legitimate ancestral land owners several years ago.
However, Calde revealed that the 5 CALTs previously issued covering portions of Wright Park, Forbes Park, Baguio Dairy Farm, Loakan airport among others which were subsequently cancelled by the Commission en banc will remain invalid and awaiting future actions that will be taken by the members of the Commission that were appointed by the President.
“We have to start the stringent evaluation and processing of the CALT applications which had been pending with us for so many years due to the imposed moratorium by the previous Commission,” Calde stressed.
The NCIP-CAR official underscored that CALT applications that comply with the stringent requirements enshrined in the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 9165 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) will be the ones that will be given due course for approval by the Commission while those with questionable documents will be subjected to further investigation by the concerned authorities.
According to him, the NCIP-CAR officials and employees will exert efforts to ascertain the legitimacy of the CALT applications to prevent unscrupulous and enterprising claimants from being able to acquire obvious titles over their purported ancestral land claims to give justice to those with legitimate and valid ancestral claims.
He called on legitimate ancestral claimants with legitimate and valid CALT applications to be patient in awaiting the outcome of their pending applications considering that the moratorium has just been lifted and the agency needs more time to evaluate and assess the validity of the pending applications over their ancestral claims.
Under Section 78 of the IPRA, Baguio City will retain its townsite reservations but prior rights recognized by administrative bodies, quasai-judical bodies and the courts before the effectivity of the law in November 1997 will remain valid.
It was learned that RA 8371 or the IPRA which empowered indigenous peoples and indigenous cultural communities to possess their ancestral lands passed on to them by their ancestors took effect in November 1997./By Dexter A. See