June 22, 2024

The land claims besetting Baguio’s livestock-raising area have become more serious as claimants resorted to brandishing arms and destruction of perimeter fences in their efforts to intrude into the site where the Department of Agriculture conducts activities to elevate the region’s agricultural development pursuits particularly on livestock-raising.
Although the armed groups have left the area after the DA called for help from the city government and the local police, the agency hopes other concerned agencies will help them in their plight to permanently stop the intrusions at the Baguio Animal Breeding and Research Center (BABRC).
After sounding the alarm over the intrusions in the area in May and in June that led Mayor Benjamin Magalong to order the Baguio City Police Office to help secure the BABRC, the DA once again made its cry for help louder when it appeared before the city council upon the latter’s invitation last July 19.
DA Regional Technical Director for Research, Regulations, and Integrated Laboratory Jennilyn Dawayan and BABRC Chief Robert Domoguen said two different armed groups have been intruding into the area since May – one group is recognized in the Cordillera while the other is based outside the region.
One of them, the Dragon Knights Security Group, is working for an individual claiming 10 hectares within the BABRC.
Domoguen told the council the security group, composed of 27 armed men, have been engaging in a standoff with DA’s security personnel and illegally set up camp within the area claimed by their client on July 11.
Dawayan said the security agency has been showing on behalf of its client-claimant, a title issued by the Land Registration Authority.
She said the LRA title overlaps with Proclamation 603 issued in 1940, which segregated the BABRC, also called the Baguio Stock Farm, for animal breeding purposes by the national government.
Dawayan said the technical description of the LRA document is not readable and the office sought the assistance of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in plotting which areas fall within Proclamation 603.
As the DA does not have a legal officer, she added the office is preparing the documents needed in filing of cases against the private individuals who have been illegally entering the BABRC.
The security agency has so far left the area after the PNP Cordillera Civil Service Security Unit found it has no license to operate in the Cordillera.
BCPO Director Col. Glenn Lonogan said the Dragon Knights security personnel’s firearms were confiscated on the grounds that they did not have the right to operate in the region.
Although the groups intruding within the BABRC are gone in the meantime, Domoguen said they are hoping for a unified action through the help of the city and other government agencies against the continued intrusion of the BABRC.
He said the past incidents have been a cause of distress among the DA employees and security personnel assigned at the BABRC.
“They are bringing in character, approach, and culture different from the consultative manner we do in the region. Their presence in the BABRC is intimidating because these people are from areas where there are weekly killings only because of misunderstanding,” he said.
Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda advised the DA to look into the authenticity of the LRA-issued title so it could dispute the claim of the holder that they have rights over the area.
She added the DA could study the possibility of filing malicious mischief against those who destroyed the perimeter fences of the BABRC.
The City Legal Office has assured it will help the DA in filing cases against those who have built illegal structures within the BABRC.
Councilor Benny Bomogao said the DA can continue asserting its rights over the BABRC, saying despite the overlapping claims, the government remains in possession of the property.
Aside from the recent armed groups’ intrusion, the 94-hectare BABRC is also beset with ancestral claims, which the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples recognized when it issued a certificate of ancestral land title over the reservation. – Jane B. Cadalig