BAGUIO CITY – Former Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan underscored the recent decision of the Supreme Court (SC) nullifying spuriously issued Certificates of Ancestral Land titles (CALTs) and their derivative titles in key areas in the city claimed by the heirs of Cosen Pirazo and Josephine Abanag should serve as a wakeup call to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to craft the pertinent rules and regulations governing the issuance of CALTs in legitimate ancestral land claims in the city.
Domogan pointed out it was the clear position of the city government from the start that CALTs and their derivative titles issued after the effectivity of Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) on November 1997, violate the pertinent provision of the said law that clearly state that Baguio City will still be governed by its Charter and all lands therein shall remain as part of its townsite reservation unless otherwise reclassified, provided that, prior rights and titles issued by quasi-judicial, administrative bodies or by the courts prior to the effectivity of the law shall remain valid.
“We are grateful the high tribunal upheld our position on the CALTs and their derivative titles that were spuriously issued. The NCIP should now consider working on the crafting of the pertinent rules and regulations governing the issuance of CALTs in the city because of its special case as provided in the IPRA provisions,” Domogan stressed.
While the aggrieved parties in the said case can still file the motion for reconsideration assailing the latest SC decision, he argued that it is impossible for the SC to take back its ruling, especially that the issues were appropriately ventilated in the said case.
Domogan asserted it is clear under the IPRA that all rights or titles issued by quasi-judicial bodies and the courts before the effectivity of the law will remain valid which is also in consonance to Section 56 of the IPRA on the vested rights of indigenous peoples over their ancestral domain.
According to him, Proclamations, road-right-of-way or titles over lands are considered to be rights which the IPRA respected pursuant to Section 78, thus, legitimately issued CALTs will still be recognized by the concerned government agencies and the city government.
Under the city’s townsite reservation, Domogan explained there are three classifications of lands in the city, the first are private properties that include the 48 original Igorot claims, the second includes government and military reservations, and the third include lands that are not either private or original Igorot claims or government or military reservations which are said to be alienable and disposable.
He claimed that based on a high court ruling in the 1970s, there were some 285 additional claims that were recognized aside from the additional 780 claims that were issued under Special Order No. 31 and Department Administrative Order No. 2 by the environment department which were deemed legitimized with the enactment of the IPRA in 1997.
He had been suggesting to the Commission to already craft the rules and regulations governing the issuance of CALTs in the city but the proposal was never given due course, thus, the SC ruling will now serve as the vehicle for the NCIP to start working on the proposal.