WITH REPORTS FROM KATHLEEN T. OKUBO
BAGUIO CITY — In a seemingly long drawn frustration over the positioning of government with regards to the recognition and respect for indigenous peoples rights over their ancestral land, descendants of a leading clan of Baguio’s original inhabitants called a major press conference today to awaken and surface in concrete terms, the rage felt by indigenous peoples all over the country on the already snail-paced and corrupt-ridden processing of their ancestral land claims.
In a written statement members of the fourth generation said, “We are proud descendants of the Ibaloi chieftain Mateo Cariño and his wife Bayosa Cariño. Mateo fought for the right to his land up to the US Supreme Court and the landmark decision penned by the then US Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1909 recognized the right of Indigenous Peoples to their land by virtue of Native Title.”
Known also as the Doctrine of Native Title, the Cariño Doctrine is now enshrined in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. In legal battles it has also been “used by Indigenous Peoples all over the world, including Native American Indians in the US and Canada, the Aborigines of Australia and the Moaris of New Zealand, to fight for their rights to their ancestral land”, the statement said.
Here in the Philippines, the Cariño Doctrine was the basis for the enactment of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) and the establishment of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
Further they said, “As descendants of Mateo Cariño, we therefore welcome every victory achieved by Indigenous Peoples by virtue of the Doctrine of Native Title. We would be the last persons in the world to protest the award of ancestral land titles to legitimate claimants. The award of “ancestral land” to spurious or fake claimants, however, is another matter altogether.”
As evidenced in government documents, the Carino clan like several Ibaloi clans in Baguio were pushed to the fringes of their private farms and pastures by the colonizers without due process. Still today in a democratic state the situation is still perpetuated in government policies.
While detailed by speakers in the press conference their statement summed up the issue, “The recent award by the NCIP of more or less 78 hectares of land inside the Baguio Dairy Farm to the Heirs of Ikang Paus is a glaring example of such anomalous transactions involving fake claimants. A detailed presentation of both the Cariño and Paus claims over Chuyo is the object of this press conference.”
The Carino claim over the area referred in the press con as Chuyo is on the basis of testimonies by their ancestors and cowhands who settled in the area and an “approved survey plan issued by the Bureau of Lands in 1920 to then the late Mateo and widow Bayosa for 329 hectares which was taken from them by virtue of proclamations for government reservations without due process.
The statement said,”Having exhausted all administrative measures within the NCIP to advance the Cariño case over Chuyo, we are now constrained to bring our case to the bar of public opinion. We do so not just to further our case but for the public interest as well.
It is certainly in the public interest to have this case, which involves a large tract of land within Baguio City, ventilated and to have all facts out in the open.
We likewise assert that we will never surrender our claim over Chuyo and we are now preparing graft and illegal practices charges against the NCIP with the Ombudsman.
We will likewise ask the Court of Appeals to revoke the Certificate of Ancestral Land Title issued by the NCIP over the 78 hectares inside the Baguio Dairy Farm to the Heirs of Ikang Paus.
The sheer magnitude of the award boggles the mind. 78 hectares is equivalent to 780,000 square meters.
With a low estimated value of P2,000.00 per square meter, the amount involved in the award is P1.56 billion. This makes the NCIP officials responsible for the award liable for the crime of plunder.
The magnitude of this case should actually impel the local government of Baguio to get involved in the case. We are calling upon the City Council to launch an inquiry in aid of legislation into the Baguio Dairy Farm award.
We are therefore calling for a congressional inquiry and even a senate inquiry in aid of legislation into all actions of the NCIP. Instead of protecting the indigenous peoples’ rights, the NCIP has become an instrument for their oppression.
As the celebration of the first ever Baguio Ibaloi Day on February 23, 2010 approaches we are confronted with mixed emotions.
On the one hand, the recognition given by the City Council to the original Ibaloi settlers of Baguio is definitely worth celebrating.
On the other hand, the recent actions of the NCIP clearly show that Baguio Ibalois have nothing to celebrate. As Baguio was celebrating its Centennial, the questionable and irregular awards of ancestral lands within Baguio City by the NCIP launched Baguio’s march into the next 100 years on the wrong foot.
The righting of this wrong is therefore imperative as Baguio embarks on its next 100 years.” The statement concluded.
Sources say, the alleged landgrab made in the name of Ikang Paus was worked-out through a Manila based law firm identified as Adarlo-Caoile law offices# nordis.net