BAGUIO CITY (March 20) — The indigenous inhabitants of this tourist destination, the Ibalois remain victims of historical injustice as a colonially-inspired land system continues to deprive them (Ibaloi) of their rights to their ancestral land despite the enactment of a state law to recognize land rights by native title.
Councilor Jose Mencio Molintas said that the United States Supreme Court recognized the time immemorial rights of the Ibalois over their lands in Baguio through its earlier decision known as the Carino Doctrine, but vestiges of American colonial land system continue to deprive them of their land rights.
The Carino Doctrine is institutionalized under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 or RA 8371, a law that supposedly will recognize the ancestral land and domain rights of indigenous peoples nationwide, according to Molintas, the lone Ibaloi member of the city’s August body. The IPRA was passed on October 29, 1997.
Molintas shared that the Certificate of Ancestral Land Claims (CALCS) were issued by the DENR to ancestral land claimants prior to the passage of the IPRA in 1997. The DENR issuance was based on their Special Orders # 31 and 31-A and Administrative Order # 2. These issued CALCs are to be processed to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) as Certificate on Ancestral Land Title or CALT, clarified Molintas.
Molintas pointed out that Section 78 of IPRA is a legal barrier for the recognition of the Ibalois ancestral lands as it states that Baguio City shall remain governed by its charter.
Interpretation of Sec. 78 shows that lands in the city cannot be acquired through as ancestral land under the IPRA and upon its effectivity but they can do so under other processes.
Introduced by the Americans in 1906, the Town Site Sales Application (TSA) of the city charter is based on Section 79 of Commonwealth Act 141 which mandates that the sale of alienable lands of the public domain within the Town Site Reservations be done by a public bidding and awarded to the highest bidder.
Geraldine Cacho, an urban poor leader, pointed out that the TSA favored the moneyed but clearly anti-poor. She cited that the large part of the city’s town site reservations will be subjected for bidding. Cacho cited government data that 32.9 % are classified as residential, commercial, industrial and institutional while 66% are open space.
This TSA system institutionalized non-recognition of Ibalois’ ancestral lands and strengthened by Section 78 of IPRA, added Molintas, who suggested that enactment should be adopted to address this injustice.
Slow CALT issuance
Molintas explained that the DENR issued CALC to ancestral land claimants, including those in the city. These issued CALCs can be processed into a Certificate of Ancestral Land Title (CALT) by the NCIP after the effectivity of the IPRA.
Nordis learned from the NCIP Baguio office that 121 CALTs has been deliberated on and approved by the NCIP en banc. The NCIP en banc also had approved the sole CADT application of the Happy Hallow community. These CALTs and CADT would be issued to beneficiaries after these would be processed and registered by the Land Registration Authority.
Data show that the processing of these certificates into CALT has been very slow.
“The attachment of the NCIP to another agency has slowed down the issuance of CALT,” Molintas added when asked why the processing took so long.
Molintas iterated that while the Carino Doctrine originated from a case in Baguio, ancestral land rights remain to be an issue that must be addressed by the government particularly that other land-related issues in the city are evolving and needs to be addressed urgently in appropriate programs and policy.
The Carino Doctrine recognized Mateo Carino’s land rights to now known Club John Hay. How it ended with the conduit government and corporate interests, observers claimed, remain to be an ironic to our post colonial justice system.
Meanwhile, urban poor leaders claimed that the bill to amend the city charter introduced by Rep. Mauricio Domogan fails to address the land problem and instead strengthened the TSA system.
Also Nordis got information that NCIP has deffered titling ancestral lands in Baguio. # Arthur L. Allad-iw for NORDIS