December 7, 2023

The age-old boundary disputes involving three Benguet municipalities has been settled with town officials and elders agreeing to equally split the contested areas.
The towns of Kapangan and Kibungan and the towns of Kapangan and Bakun recently signed settlement agreements that would put to rest the boundary disputes in their respective areas.
Vice Gov. Johnny Waguis, who attended the signing of the settlement agreement of boundary disputes on July 16 in Palina, Kibungan, said this is the first case the provincial board has handled where the towns agreed to equally split the disputed areas among them.
As part of the effort of the provincial board to resolve boundary disputes among towns, officials of Kapangan and Kibungan as well as Kapangan and Bakun have agreed during a consultation by the board on Nov. 11, 2019 to settle the disputes.
On Feb. 26 this year, a follow-up meeting was conducted at the Capitol conference hall where the parties again agreed to settle their boundary disputes. 
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the formal settlement was delayed but the matter was formally settled in Kibungan on July 16 where Kapangan and Kibungan agreed to divide equally the disputed area consisting of 1,663.3 hectares.
The boundary dispute between Kapangan and Kibungan was supposedly settled on Oct. 21, 1958 by the provincial board of the old Mountain Province through Resolution 965, s. 1958.
However, on Aug. 31, 1959, the officials and people of Kibungan submitted their petition to the provincial board that sought to revive the resolution citing that the town will be losing much of its land area.
The provincial board passed another resolution on Oct. 5, 1962, maintaining the provisions of Resolution 965 s. 1958.
But on Jan. 31, 1963, the municipal district council of Kibungan passed a resolution stating that the sitios being claimed by Kapangan is within its territory. It added no decision was made by higher authorities or official agreement between the two municipalities.
The dispute continued until the recent agreement, signed by all municipal officials and elders of both towns.
Meanwhile, Bakun and Kibungan’s boundary dispute dating 70 years back was amicably settled in June 11, 1957 through an agreement signed between officials and residents of both towns.  
On Aug. 16, 1957, the provincial board of the old Mountain Province advised the municipal councils of Kibungan and Bakun to adopt a resolution accepting and confirming the amicable settlement agreed on June 1957.
The municipal council of Bakun passed a resolution accepting and confirming the settlement but Kibungan passed a resolution contesting the settlement.
The council of Kibungan then passed a resolution on Dec. 16, 1957 revoking the June 11, 1957 settlement but was vehemently opposed by then Bakun mayor Robert Alangdeo, maintaining the agreed boundary line on 1957.
The provincial board also passed a resolution on June 7, 1957 setting a new boundary line for Bakun and Kibungan but from 1960, no proper resolution for the dispute was made, until recently.
In the latest agreement, Bakun and Kibungan will amicably split the 1,056.2 hectares of disputed land. This includes a watershed, most of which is still owned by Kibungan; the towns agreed that the watershed shall be maintained and respected.
“Any change or amendment thereto including the management or use thereof shall be subject to the customary tongtongan or tongtong (talk) of the parties,” Bakun and Kibungan’s agreement stated.
Moreover, the existing tax declarations or land titles over lands located within the disputed area are corrected but real property taxes shall be paid before the municipality where the properties are at present registered. However, new declarations of lands shall be registered within the municipality where the land is presently located, the agreement stated.
“This agreement shall be binding between the parties and shall continue to have legal force and effect even after the expiration of the terms of the municipal officials that have affixed their signatures herein,” reads the agreement.
“This agreement shall be absolute and immutable,” it added.
Waguis said they will submit all documents to the Department of Budget and Management, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Cordillera, Department of the Interior and Local Government-Benguet for their information and appropriate action.
“It’s good that they have settled this, so they could demand already for the release of their corresponding internal revenue allotment. It’s quite huge when we tried to estimate; and which they were not able to avail for many years because of the dispute,” Waguis said.
For local government units having boundary disputes, the disputed land area will not be added in the computation of their IRA until the issue is settled. – Ofelia C. Empian