Issue of January 19, 2014

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NCIP denies injunction filed vs put up of gov’t TV station
by Hanna C. Lacsamana

The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples regional hearing office has denied the petition of an Ibaloy family to stop the construction of a government-owned television station over a property at Wright Park which the latter is claiming as their ancestral property.

In a resolution released on Jan. 13, NCIP Regional Hearing Officer Brain Masweng ordered the heirs of Quintino Abanag and Josephine Abanag and the defendants, the Department of Public Works and Highways and State-owned Peoples Television Network (PTV 4) to observe status quo pending the decision of the Supreme Court on the ownership of the disputed Baguio lot, which includes the current location of The Mansion and Philippine Information Agency regional office.

The NCIP also ruled the government is granted the option to continue with the construction of the PTV 4’s building upon filing of an injunctive bond to be determined in a hearing upon motion.

The family’s heirs, represented by Marion Pool, on the other hand, are granted the option to file a counter-bond twice the value of the bond  government may file should they want to ask to stop the construction of the TV station’s building.

The Abanag family won a Court of Appeals decision, which affirmed a 2010 NCIP resolution that awarded them the certificates of ancestral land titles over the Wright Park lot.

But the government, through DPWH and PTV4 also presented a land title to support their rightful claim over the disputed property.

The NCIP denied the request for injunction as it said it cannot just brush aside the pending SC decision, which will necessarily affect the rights of both parties for it involves a petition to cancel the Abanags’ existing ancestral land titles.

“Should the Supreme Court affirm plaintiffs’ title, defendants’ rights over the disputed property would surely put in jeopardy and should the Supreme Court decides to cancel plaintiffs’ ancestral land titles, plaintiffs’ right over the disputed property will also be put in jeopardy,” the NCIP said.

In the light of such legal and complicated situation, the NCIP resolved to balance the interest of the parties through observance of status quo, in accordance with Section 8 of NCIP Administrative Circular 1, s. 2013 which says NCIP may adopt measures to effect its jurisdiction.

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