June 20, 2024

The city government of Baguio has registered its opposition to the impending auction by the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources of a parcel of land between Paterno Street and Kneedler Road, South Drive which, as early as 1995 has been identified for city and barangay land needs.
In the city council’s session last Jan. 31, the body adopted the recommendations of then mayor Mauricio Domogan that stated the townsite sales application of a certain Enrique Galang should be denied.
Records submitted to the DENR showed that Galang is already the owner of a 793-square-meter property in Barangay Irisan, hence is no longer qualified to apply over a public land.
Citing the Public Land Act, resolutions of the AO 504 Clearing Committee, and department orders of the DENR, the former mayor said before the agency can dispose public land for public auction, priority should be given to land needs of the government; public land may only be disposed to applicants who are not yet property owners; and accommodation of new applications shall only be made after ancestral lands have been identified, surveyed, and delineated.
Domogan added the city government or the barangay did not waive its claim over the property, contrary to the claim of the DENR that then South Drive punong barangay Cesar Munar issued a certificate waiving the government’s claim.
Galang submitted his TSA over the property since 2007. On the same year, the then regional executive director of the DENR signed a resolution giving due course to Galang’s application.
Giving due course to a TSA signals the sale of public land through auction.
In 2008 up to the present, the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office has not proceeded with the auction.
In 2021, the Cenro was supposed to implement the sale but has withheld the same due to the recurring issue on the city’s opposition.
Last Jan. 13, Planning and Development Officer Donna Tabangin wrote Cenro Officer-in-Charge Leandro de Jesus that city government or South Drive barangay officials were not informed of the plan to auction the parcel of land.
Based on available documents Tabangin and the city council said the DENR’s giving due course to Galang’s TSA was irregular.
Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan broached the idea that apart from opposing the impending auction, the city government should file a case against the then regional director who allowed the application despite the city’s claim over the area.
During the session, Elias Aoanan of the CPDO said the withdrawal of the lot’s identification is not valid since it was the City Land Needs and Identification Committee that rightfully identified it for barangay/city needs.
South Drive barangay plans on developing the area into a barangay park. – Rimaliza A. Opiña