By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — The National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) Cordillera said that the proposed proclamation that would allow the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) to expand its land area should be put on hold because the PMA failed to consult the Ibaloys and local officials of Tuba town in Benguet.
In her report to the NCIP enbanc, Atty. Harriet Abyadang, regional legal officer said that the 105 hectares PMA is seeking to be included in its military reservation falls within the ancestral domains of Ibaloy indigenous cultural communities by native title.
DENR Secrtary Roy Cimatu said that the area being sought to be included in the military reservation is public land and has already been utilized as firing range and training ground for cadet during his visit to PMA last February.
BGen Donato San Juan, PMA superintendent during the graduation last February said that their request for additional 105 hectares is part of their efforts to protect the PMA reservation from SSM. “It is no longer part of the public domain that maybe subject to Section 83-Chapter XII, Title V of the Public Land Act, nor to taking, as private land, unless through the exercise of the power of eminent domain,” Abyadang said in her report.
According to Abyadang’s report, native title refers to preconquest rights of indigenous communities to lands and domains “have never been public lands and are thus indisputably presumed to have been held that way since before the Spanish Conquest”.
Abyadang also said that PMA should get the free prior informed consent of the Ibaloys of Tuba.
Abyadang further said that PMA did not consult the provincial government of Benguet or the NCIP about their expansion plans.
Abyadang said that two ancestral land claims overlapped by the area being sought to be part of PMA reservation that include those filed by Andrew Pilanta and Paulita Solana. Pilanta and Solana filed for identification and delineation of ancestral lands in September 2003 over 501,939 sq. meters and 506,360 sq. meters respectively. # nordis.net