BAGUIO CITY — Residents of tourist town Sagada in Mountain Province declared opposition against the entry of Ayala corporation and other big businesses in their town following the municipal council’s resolution affirming the established cultural rule that prohibits the sale of land to outsiders.

“We stand against the sale, lease of our land, especially large-scale patents to outsiders,” said the residents in a community statement.

“We firmly oppose the entry of Ayala or anybody who would dispossess us of our ancestral heritage. This is our patrimony and must remain so for generations,” the statement added.

The signatories said that despite being the smallest town in Mountain Province, they are blessed with landscapes that have attracted many tourists locally and internationally. They added that through the years, Sagada folk made efforts to keep their way of life in the face of mass tourism.

“We are now taking a stand for a kind of tourism that will put premium on protecting the natural heritage Kabunyan (Creator) has bestowed on us, and the cultural values handed to them by their ancestors,” the statement said.

They underscored that tourism should be “nature-based” and “supports the development of small businesses” in the community. The statement acknowledged that the local tourism industry has opened opportunities for livelihood.

According to them, the town’s tourism caught the interest outsiders, with “rich business owners and even showbiz personalities have expressed interest to buy, lease or control Sagada lands.”

“We have a long historical tradition of fighting for our communal and ancestral lands,” they said, adding that they denied the entry of Cellophil, Philcarbon, and big corporate mining interests.

Earlier, the Sagada town council passed Resolution No. 203-2019 calling on Mayor James Pooten to order the Municipal Assessor to refrains from processing of survey and the transfer and revision of tax declarations “with sweeping and unimaginable land areas.” The moratorium also includes lands that used “natural landmarks and names of places as boundaries on their tax declarations.”

Particularly, it urged the mayor and concerned offices to stop the processing of sale or transfer of lands and tax declarations under the name of Julia Agayyo. The legislators also discouraged prospective buyers of the land, underscoring that Agayyo’s land claim in Kanipawan, Sagada is “fraudulent.”

“The subject declaration in the name of Julia Agayyo being a sweeping declaration with an unimaginable land area coupled by the fact that it merely used names of places or natural landmarks as boundary speaks of itself that it is not real of true but was made only for convenience purposes other than ownership…” the resolution stated.

The resolution also noted that Agayyo’s claim falls within a communal area. It is part of the ancestral land claim of the Central and Eastern villages in particular and within the Sagada Ancestral Domain Claim in general.

The resolution also explained that Sagada has “established cultural rules and procedures in the sale real properties,” which prohibits the sale of land to outsiders (non-indigenous people of Sagada) without informing and consulting with relatives, clan members, adjacent owners and the community as a whole.

“…the very purpose of this cultural practice is to strictly maintain the identity of Sagada as a village and avoid outside interference that in a way adulterates the simple, culture-based, social principled life system of the community/village…” the resolution stated. # nordis.net

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