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[ Baguio ] Councilors probe CALT over Forbes Park

Saturday, May 23, 2009

By Rimaliza Opiña

LAND reserves of Baguio including those identified as forests and watersheds are fast diminishing.

Very recently, the Registry of Deeds confirmed that a portion of Lot 1 (near Iggy’s Inn) of the Forbes Park forest reserve, along South Drive, has been issued a Certificate of Ancestral Land Title (CALT) on November 2008.

The CALT was issued to the heirs of Lauro Carantes, said Juanito Ampaguey, head of the Baguio Registry of Deeds.

This forced the Baguio City council to create a body composed of the City Legal Office, City Planning and Development Office, the City Assessor’s Office, and the City Engineers Office to investigate how large the area is.

Annotations in the declaration of real property at the City Assessor’s Office showed the Carantes property overlaps with properties named under the Republic of the Philippines Forbes Park I and the city of Baguio.

At the same time, lawyer Melchor Carlos Rabanes, officer-in-charge of the City Legal Office, is set to coordinate with a geodetic engineer to help in determining which portion of Lot I was titled.

Having previously been identified as a forest reservation by the City Government, members of the council said no title should have been issued in Forbes Park.

Councilor Isabelo Cosalan, chairman of the committee on lands, has initiated an investigation on the titling of ancestral properties, following the number of applications for development permits filed before his committee.

On May 11, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Director Amador Batay-an, Rabanes, and Ampaguey were called to the council to clarify issues regarding the application and titling of ancestral claims and if Baguio City is covered by the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (Ipra).

The Department of Justice earlier issued a resolution that a CALT covering ancestral lands within the Baguio townsite reservation can be registered with the Land Registration Authority and the Registry of Deeds.

But Rabanes said the Supreme Court (SC) has yet to issue a pronouncement regarding this. Based on Section 78 of Ipra, he said the city’s stand is that Baguio is exempt from these claims.

Section 78 states Baguio remains governed by its charter and all lands proclaimed as part of its townsite reservation will remain as such until otherwise reclassified by legislation.

Pending before the SC are two cases related to the issue, that of ancestral claims at the Baguio Dairy Farm and the Busol Watershed.

The High Court earlier recognized the city’s rights over these properties but motions for reconsideration has been filed in both cases.

Pending the SC’s decision in both cases, the council also asked the NCIP to stop receiving ancestral claims applications. The council decided not to issue preliminary and locational clearances in areas covered by CALTs.


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