BAGUIO CITY — An Ibaloi clan in this city hit the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) for entertaining and endorsing application of “”unscrupulous people” to have their ancestral land’ titled.
Judith Cariño, representing the descendants of Mateo Cariño and his wife Bayosa Ortega, said their present ancestral land claim of 94 hectares over the Baguio Dairy Farm in Green Valley, here, are also the subject of the NCIP Commissioners en banc deliberation where, she alleged, 67 hectares are to be awarded to the Ikang Paus clan.
“We hope that the Centennial of Baguio will not be marred by another case of land grabbing, sponsored now by the NCIP, in the footsteps of the American colonial government a hundred years ago,” added Cariño.
Despite their land application done in earlier period, Cariño questioned the NCIP endorsement that favored the the Paus clan.
The Paus clan claim was allegedly favorably endorsed by the NCIP Baguio officer Gladys Lasdacan, Cordillera Regional Director Atty. Amador Batay-an, and national Ancestral Domains Officer Myrna Caoagas. Cariño added, “It is now just awaiting the signing of the resolution awarding this piece of land to the heirs of Paus.”
We are afraid that the IPRA, which is supposed to uphold the rights of IPs, is being perverted by unscrupulous people, in order to acquire choice lands in Baguio City and have it titled in their names,” added Cariño.
The land in question
Cariño said the area was a part of the ancestral land of her great grandmother, Bayosa Ortega, wife of Mateo Cariño. The couple developed the parcel of land based on the Ibaloi land utilization.
During the colonial period, her ancestors were able to have the land surveyed under the name of Bayosa and declared for taxation in 1929 in the municipality of Tuba, Benguet.
During the Commonwealth period in August 1940, some 94 hectares of this land was expropriated without just compensation by virtue of Pres. Manuel L. Quezon Executive Proclamation No. 603 where the land was declared for animal breeding purposes, under the administration of the Director of Animal Industry, Nordis learned.
Ancestral land claims
Cariño added the heirs of Mateo filed an application for ancestral land claims over the Baguio Dairy Farm in 1990 under DENR’s special order facilitated by its Special Task Force on Ancestral Lands (STFAL). On December 18, 1991, the task force clarified the “subject application has satisfied the requirements for a valid ancestral land claim”.
Under RA 8371 otherwise known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997, ancestral land claims recognized and favorably recommended by the STFAL are to be facilitated to the NCIP for the issuance of Certificate of Ancestral Land Titles (CALTs).
Cariño added they have complied with all their requirements, step by step, in the Baguio Office of the NCIP since 2004. She added a perimeter survey was conducted by NCIP Baguio Engr. Victor Bumatnong on Nov. 14, 2008 with the presence of the Department of Agriculture and Bureau of Animal Industry officials, based on a Work Order 08-07-08 released by the NCIP central office.
We thought that this survey was bringing us closer to our goal of having our ancestral land be recognized. Little did we know that some magic was happening in the national office of the NCIP,” she added.
In 2003, Baguio City demolished 31 houses and shanties of the heirs of Paus for illegal entry and construction within the Baguio Dairy Farm.
Paus petition the NCIP Hearing Office for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) with a prayer for writ of preliminary injunction on the city’s demolition order of their structures.
A TRO was granted by the NCIP Regional Hearing Office and the preliminary injunction afterwards to stop the demolition by the city on the shanties of Paus.
The injunction was contested for reconsideration by the heirs of Bayosa and when it became final in the NCIP level, they went to the Court of Appeals to stop the NCIP injunction. The CA issued a decision in 2003 which totally nullified the NCIP injunction in favor of the Paus heirs on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction.
NCIP no definite answer
When asked as to the status of the Paus heir application for a CALT, NCIP chairman Insigne claimed in an SMS message that he is not familiar with the claims and said that that the claim is not yet touched for deliberation.
He failed to answer another question whether the Bayosa heirs can file a protest at the regional NCIP office.
Questions were sent via SMS to NCIP CAR Dir. Batay-an and city office head Gladys Lasdacan as to the status of the Paus claim and if it overlaps with the Bayosa claim but they were not answered by the said NCIP officials.
Cariño claimed that Batay-an, Lasdacan and ADO officer Caoagas endorsed the Paus claim.
Earlier, the Department of Justice came out with an interpretation of Section 78 of RA 8371 (or IPRA law) that any claims of ancestral lands that were included in a proclamation can be done.
We hope the Commissioners are enlightened and guided by the wisdom of our ancestors when they make a decision to put their signature on this document or not. We hope that by making this public, we can avoid the commission of a mistake, which will compound the historical injustice and land grabbing which the original Ibaloi families of Baguio have suffered for one century now,” Carino ended. # Arthur L. Allad-iw