June 28, 2009 in Baguio City
By AILEEN REFUERZO
BAGUIO CITY — City officials last week denied applying for lots or receiving lot donations within the Forbes Park forest reservation where alleged large tracts of land were recently issued Certificates of Ancestral Land Title (CALTs).
Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. Thursday brushed off said allegation broached by the Linis Gobyerno anti-graft entity as plain rumor, as he maintained that city officials are acting for the protection of the forest reservation, and questioning the validity of said CALTs in a forest reservation, which is not classified as “alienable and disposable.”
The city council Monday trashed the allegation as unfounded and tainted with “bad faith” saying it is unfair.
“It is impossible that a very prime lot which we want to use for our forest will be divided by some people allegedly in the government,” Vice Mayor Daniel Farinas said.
The body decided to invite to its next session Linis Gobyerno representatives and the editor and columnist of the newspaper where the accusation was published. Odelle Aquino, Linis Gobyero Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices director, who wrote and published the letter, runs the risk of being declared as persona non grata (unwelcome) for reportedly writing and publishing an unfounded claim. The proposal may also include other personalities who may be found liable in the issuance of the CALTs to the persona non grata list.
This developed after Councilor Antonio Tabora Jr., presented to the body data proving that, indeed, CALTs were issued covering 23 hectares of land within the said reservation.
Documents also showed pending applications for CALTs complete with the names of the applicants and numbering around 140 waiting for action by the NCIP.
The council only recently invited the heads of the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to shed light on reports that some portions of the Forbes Park reservation had been issued titles in favor of the heirs of Lauro Carantes as confirmed by Register of Deeds, Juanito Ampaguey.
The meeting prompted the body to urge the two agencies to stop accepting applications for ancestral land claims and to suspend processing of pending applications until the Supreme Court issues a definite ruling on whether Baguio City is covered by the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA).
The council also opposed the titles issued to the Carantes clan through an adverse annotation even as it also sought to suspend the approval of locational clearance, development permit and building permit to lands covered by ancestral land titles now under study by the body.
A committee composed of the city legal officer, planning officer, city assessor and city engineer will investigate the Lot 1 of Forbes Park to establish the area size, location, and titled portions.# nordis.net