Issue of August 25, 2013
Mt. Province

Courier Anniversary Issue
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IPs told not to overreact on ancestral lands issue

The city council in its fifth regular session last Monday presided by Vice Mayor Daniel Fariñas acted on 76 matters.

The council unanimously approved Ordinance 42, s. 2013, entitled “Establishing or declaring every second Sunday of September of every year as Students’ Day in the City of Baguio and allocating funds for its celebration.”

Fariñas, Councilor Peter Fianza, and SK Federation president Kaminn Cheryl Dinney Yangot, who authored the ordinance, said fund for this year’s celebration is included in the annual budget.

The council also approved Ordinance 45, s. 2013, “Honoring the centenarians of the city.” Funds for the implementation of the ordinance authored by Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda are available from savings of the City Social Welfare and Development Office under account 2013969.

Councilor Isabelo Cosalan Jr. delivered a privilege speech for the public not to fear the exaggerated issues on ancestral land claims of the indigenous peoples in Baguio.

To further understand the lawful ancestral land claimants, Cosalan mentioned the long struggle or “generational journey” of the indigenous peoples since the colonial time in pursuit to regain their identity and inherent rights. He focused on the case of the Ibalois and the Kankanaeys who are originally homesteaders of Kafagway, now called Baguio City and a bustling haven of diverse races and cultures.

He said the government, since the American regime, started recognizing the identity and promoting the rights of the IPs through proclamations, issuances, republic acts, resolutions including the provisions of the Baguio City charter, and the 1987 Philippine Constitution. The latest is the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, which was enacted on Oct. 29, 1997. These strings of laws, including the concept of native title or “Cariño Doctrine of 1909,” have indirectly acknowledged the prior rights of IPs over certain lands in the city.

Cosalan proposed to update the city’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) to have a clearer policy on how to respond to opportunities and future challenges. He suggested providing the CLUP a provision, which will recognize the “IP ancestral land domains” in all levels of development plan of the city. The realization of the goal of the government towards mutual local governance and productive development includes the recognition of “rightful land ownership” and the involvement of the IPs as major sectoral partners.

The council referred Cosalan’s recommendations to committee on urban planning, lands, and housing chair Leandro Yangot Jr. who committed to act on it together with all the proposals that were referred to his committee.

Pursuant to the provisions of the Local Government Code of 1991 and through the recommendation of the committee on ways and means cluster C, the council accredited the Philippine Government Retired Employees Association Inc., Baguio City, Cordillera Chapter; Society of Outstanding Citizens of Baguio; Prolife Baguio, Life Counseling Center; and Filipino-Japanese Foundation of Northern Luzon Inc.

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