Baguio urban poor urges sanction for officials involved in land scam

BAGUIO CITY (Oct. 6) — While an urban poor group here welcomes the regional trial court decision declaring null and void two mother titles covering portions of San Carlos Heights in barangay Irisan, the group claimed that government officials who issued and validated titles in parcels of land classified as forest land should be penalized.

Geraldine Cacho of the Organisasyon dagiti Nakurapay nga Umili ti Syudad (Ornus) said government officials who issued and validated the two annulled Irisan titles should answer to the claimants and actual occupants.

“We should not forget that these government officials are the ones who issued and validated OCT (original certificate of title) 0-47 and OCT-108, and some 94 TCTs (transfer certificate of title) that emanated from the two OCTs. Are we to conclude that these officials did not know the classification of the lands?” she stressed.

The said OCTs were issued by then the Court of First Instance now the Regional Trial Court. In the past judicial issuance of title was allowed.

Cacho added that both the actual occupants and title holders are victims of the public officials who issued the titles. She claimed, however, that the actual occupants are the most affected. “They were victimized by government officials who stood by the claimants despite their knowledge of the status of the lands in question and by the claimants who used the land for their personal interest,” she explained.

Moreover, Cacho said actual occupants should not be complacent because the annulment of the two titles is not the end of their struggle to own the land. She explained that although the decision reverted the said land as public land classified as forest reserve, the law provides that forest reserves cannot be privately owned unless reclassified as alienable and disposable by the Philippine Congress or the president.

“While the claimants can no longer cause demolition as they no longer have the right, the state can stilla demolish structures in the said land, which was reverted as inalienable and indisposable, “ she said.

Cacho further said this calls for concerted effort and stronger unity among actual occupants and those outside the two OCTs to face the consequences of the court decision. She also said affected residents should study the “concrete situation” of the lands they are presently occupying and adopt actions that would recognize their rights as actual occupants and finally as owner of the lands.

“We must persevere in our struggle for the respect and recognition of our right to shelter. Our hopes are the hopes of our children and the generations yet to come. If we cannot finish the struggle, at least they (our children) will not start from zero. We have nothing to lose if we struggle, and we have at least a shelter to gain if we start now,” the Ornus position paper read. # Kim Ngabit-Quitasol for NORDIS

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