The indigenous inhabitants of Baguio City, the Ibalois, remain victims of historical injustice as a colonially-inspired land system continues to deprive them of their rights to their ancestral land despite the enactment of a state law to recognize land rights by native title.
BY ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
Posted by Bulatlat
BAGUIO CITY (246 kms. north of Manila) – The indigenous inhabitants of this tourist destination, the Ibalois, remain victims of historical injustice as a colonially-inspired land system continues to deprive them of their rights to their ancestral land despite the enactment of a state law to recognize land rights by native title.
In an interview, Baguio City Councilor Jose Mencio Molintas said the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the rights of the Ibalois over their lands in Baguio through its earlier decision known as the Cariño Doctrine, but vestiges of the American colonial land system continue to deprive them of their land rights.
The Cariño 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 Baguio City Council. The IPRA was passed on Oct. 29, 1997.
Molintas shared that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued Certificates of Ancestral Land Claims (CALCS) to ancestral land claimants prior to the passage of the IPRA in 1997. The DENR issuance was based on the agency’s Special Orders Nos. 31 and 31-A and Administrative Order No. 2. These issued CALCs are to be processed before the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) as Certificates 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.
Introduced by the American colonizers 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 in a separate interview that the TSA favored the moneyed and was 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 showing that 32.9 percent are classified as residential, commercial, industrial and institutional while 66 percent are open space.
This TSA system institutionalized non-recognition of Ibalois’ ancestral lands. This was strengthened by Section 78 of the IPRA, said Molintas, who suggested that legislative measures be enacted to address this “injustice.”
Slow CALT issuance
Molintas also explained that the DENR issued CALCs to ancestral land claimants, including those in the city. These issued CALCs can be processed into CALTs by the NCIP after the IPRA took effect.
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 Cariño Doctrine originated from a case in Baguio, ancestral land rights remain 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 Cariño Doctrine recognized Mateo Cariño’s land rights to what is now known as Club John Hay.
Meanwhile, urban poor leaders say that the bill to amend the city charter introduced by Rep. Mauricio Domogan fails to address the land problem and instead strengthens the TSA system.(Bulatlat.com)