The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently issued a resolution that a Certificate of Ancestral Land Title (CALT) covering ancestral land within the city’s town-site reservation can be registered with the Land Registration Authority (LRA) and the Registry of Deeds.
BY ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S WATCH
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 322, September 14-20, 2008
BAGUIO CITY (246 kms north of Manila) – The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently issued a resolution that a Certificate of Ancestral Land Title (CALT) covering ancestral land within the city’s town-site reservation can be registered with the Land Registration Authority (LRA) and the Registry of Deeds.
Ibalois in the city welcomed the justice department ruling saying that it does not only clarify ancestral land claims but corrects a historical injustice. Various CALTs were issued by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) based on the CALC (Certificate on Ancestral Land Claim) issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) prior to the advent of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997.
In its Aug. 29 resolution, the DoJ interpreted a Special Provision (for Baguio City) of Republic Act No. 8371 or IPRA that does not bar the registration of CALT of lots within the town-site reservation.
Nothing in RA 8371 precludes the issuance of lots within the Baguio Town-site Reservation, the DOJ resolution pointed out.
“This is in support of the right of indigenous peoples to claim parts of the ancestral domains which have been reserved for various purposes, except those reserved and intended for common public welfare and service,” read the DoJ resolution. It added, “Thus, as CALTs may be issued for lots within the Baguio Town-site Reservation, these CALTs may be registered with the Register of Deeds in the place where the property is located as provided by the IPRA.”
Nordis learned that the LRA petitioned the DoJ to issue an interpretation of Section 78 of RA 8371 as it (LRA) believed all lands within the Baguio Town-site Reservation are no longer eligible for registration under the Land Registration Act and that a military reservation or any part of it is not admissible for registration.
LRA added that “the reservation segregates it from the public domain and no amount of time in whatever nature of possession could ripen such (possession) into private ownership.”
Section 78 of RA 8371 states that: the City of Baguio shall remain to be governed by its Charter and all lands proclaimed as part of its town-site reservation shall remain as such until otherwise reclassified by appropriate legislation: Provided, That prior land rights and titles recognized and/or acquired through any judicial, administrative or other processes before the effectivity of this Act shall remain valid: Provided, further, That this provision shall not apply to any territory which becomes part of the City of Baguio after the effectivity of this act.”
Subject ancestral land
Nordis learned that NCIP granted the heirs of Salve Amistad three CALTs. Said ancestral land claims are located in Baguio City.
NCIP referred the CALTs to the LRA for registration but the latter failed to act as they claimed Civil Reservation 211 (94) covered said CALTs. The LRA claimed that since these lands are within a reservation, these could not be registered.
On the other hand, NCIP claimed the proclamation of the city as a civil or town-site reservation did not diminish, extinguish or impair the rights of the indigenous peoples in the city over their ancestral land.
The LRA and NCIP squabble as to the registrations of the three CALT reached the DoJ, which was asked to issue an interpretation.
Kathleen T. Okubo, an Ibaloi interviewed by this reporter, welcomed the DoJ resolution.
“It clarifies that ancestral lands exists in the city and even ancestral lands within reservations with CALTs can now be registered. It is a sort of step to correct injustices to the Ibaloi,” Okubo added.
Nordis learned that various reservations were made by colonial and post-colonial governments and had “expropriated” Ibaloi ancestral lands in the city without their consent and just compensation.
IPRA, which aims to recognize the ancestral land and domain of indigenous peoples, was passed in October 1997 and became effective the next month and created NCIP as implementer of the law. NCIP had been an independent office but was subsumed by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and, after that, the Office of the President. Militant indigenous peoples see this move as having been orchestrated to facilitate mining applications. Northern Dispatch / (Bulatlat.com)