February 24, 2024

It is my humble stand that the new Baguio City Charter, assiduously shepherded to success by Rep. Mark Go in Congress, restored the ancestral land rights of the Ivadoy, Kalanguya, and Kankanaey in Baguio City. Although a Supreme Court decision declared the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples has no authority to issue certificate of ancestral land/ancestral domain titles over areas covered by the Townsite Reservation of Baguio City, said decision was never implemented to date.
In late December 2019, the SC decision promulgated Sept. 25, 2019 was released to the press. Through this representation’s initiative, a meeting of lawyers representing holders of certificates of ancestral lands, attended by the late Atty. Alfonso Aroco, and NCIP lawyers was held. The result was a consensus that the late Atty. Aroco will prepare a consolidated motion for reconsideration of the SC decision, which unfortunately was denied. I also prepared a petition to the President, which was personally delivered and handed to the chief of legal division of the Presidential Management Staff of Malacañang, courtesy of a lady friend of the Malacañang lawyer.
The anomalies allegedly attendant to the anomalous certificate of titles were committed at the NCIP office, not by the ancestral land titles grantees/holders.
Given that proceeds of Townsite Sales of the alleged Baguio City Townsite Reservation accrue to the city coffers, Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong and Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan have every reason to see the execution and implementation of the SC decision, but to their credit, the two city officials opted not to aggravate the hardship and misery of the Ivadoy, Kallanguya, and Kankanaey residents generated by the SC decision.
With this, we express on behalf of the Ivadoy, Kalanguya, and Kankanaey our deep gratitude to Go, Magalong, and Olowan.
It bears repeating the CALTs involved in this case remain uncancelled because no court order directed the Register of Deeds of Baguio City to effect the cancellation of the CALTs. Consequently, said documents are entitled due recognition and respect, by mandate of the law. With Republic Act 11689 or Revised Baguio City Charter, all doubts on the validity, due recognition, and respect to these documents were cleared.
It lapsed into law on April 11. The power of the President to allow an act of Congress to lapse into law is a Constitutional provision. We do not claim expertise in law, but our simple and humble analysis and understanding of the situation is, by allowing the city charter to lapse into law, the NCIP authority to issue CALTs in areas covered by the Townsite Reservation of Baguio City was restored and the SC decision is tantamount to not having existed at all. (MANUEL C. CUILAN)