February 7, 2023

The city government filed on Feb. 19 a motion for intervention on the ongoing case involving the subdivided lots covered by an allegedly unvalidated 211 title within the Busol Watershed.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong also lodged an accompanying complaint-in-intervention asking the court to void Original Certificate of Title (OCT) 0-162 and its derivative titles and remove the same from the Registry of Deeds records.
The 211 titles were issued under Civil Reservation Case No. 1 Record 211, which were dec-lared void by the Supreme Court because the court that issued these titles had no jurisdiction.
The titles can be legalized only upon undergoing validation proceedings.
The lot covered by OCT 0-162 located at Busol covers 77,849 square meters and was subdivided into 22 lots and were issued transfer certificates of title (TCTs).
The City Assessor’s Office discovered the TCTs in 2013 upon a review of the applications for tax declaration covering the subdivided lots and noticed the lack of revalidation before the lot was subdivided.
Upon the advice of then acting legal officer Melchor Carlos Rabanes, the city government did not issue the tax declarations applied for while then mayor Mauricio Domogan tasked the Assessor’s and Legal offices to undertake necessary actions to nullify said titles.
In Civil Case No. 7929-R lodged before the Regional Trial Court Branch 60, plaintiffs Sabina P. Lubos, et al. asked for the annulment of certain documents and titles, among others, and for the restoration of the OCT No. 0-162 “in the names of plaintiffs’ predecessors-in-interest.”
Named respondents were the Registry of Deeds for the City of Baguio, et al.
In the motion to intervene, lawyers Isagani Liporada and Rabanes of the City Legal Office expressed the city’s intent to preserve and protect the Busol Forest Reservation, being one of the city’s remaining pine stands and water source, as aligned with the policies of the state citing previous court rulings declaring the watershed inalienable. 
“From the foregoing, intervention will not, in the very least, unduly delay or prejudice the rights of the original parties in the case. On the contrary, it shall put to rest whatever controversies that may later be raised against their claims juxtaposed over the fact that the realty subject of the case rests within the Busol Watershed Reservation,” the city said.
In the attached complaint-in-intervention, the city argued that OCT No. 0-162 had never been validated pursuant to Presidential Decree 1271 and is null and void albeit the plaintiffs “assert their predecessors-in-interest are registered owners of the property; their ancestors’ claim was recognized in Proclamation No. 15 of 1922; and consistent with said assertions prayed, the Register of Deeds restore OCT 0-162 in their names being predecessors-in-interest of those whose names appear in OCT 0-162…”
“The claim of plaintiffs coupled with the apparent existence of OCT No. 0-162 in the Registry of Deeds, Baguio City, exposes said dominio publico to acts of private ownership, including the right to exclude any person from the enjoyment thereof and to make it subject of commerce – contrary to the purpose for which it was established under Proclamation No. 15 of 1922, which purpose as source of water for inhabitants of Baguio City, intervenor is mandated to protect,” the city said.
“Considering the foregoing, plaintiffs institution of the original action in Civil Case No. 7929-R, which action niftily excluded the City of Baguio and its constituents including those unborn, makes plaintiffs’ private claims superior over an important human need for water. This exclusion, nay ‘reverse discrimination’ by the few against the many, not only places innumerable lives in danger by endangering Baguio City’s water-source; it too, places the Honorable Court in an unsettling role of adjudicating property that is res communis between and/or amongst private parties, which events can only be prevented by an absolute declaration of nullity of OCT No. 0-162 and its purported derivative titles.” – Aileen P. Refuerzo