December 4, 2022

With a vote of six against, three abstentions, and seven in favor, the city council rejected the proposed resolution seeking to reduce to 300 square meters from the maximum 1,000 square meters when one applies for land titling through miscellaneous sales application (MSA).
The council initially suggested to return the proposed resolution authored by Councilor Fred Bagbagen for inclusion of their inputs during their deliberations, such as reconciling the proposal of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources that the maximum alienable and disposal land should be at least 500 square meters; that the international standard habitable area of at least 110 square meters while the council proposal of 300 square meters; and that identified lands and the applied area, even if compliant with the minimum size requirement, should not be considered alienable and disposable if located at geohazard area.
The councilors added the resolution should contain a recommendation for Congress and the Office of the President to amend the Public Land Act or for the President to issue a proclamation amending the administrative order that gave rise to the processes allowing the titling of public lands in Baguio through MSA and townsite sales application.
The DENR should also be able to address the possibility that complaints may arise from applicants who are able to comply with the required area and are only awaiting approval of their application, the council added.
Processing of TSA was by virtue of Administrative Order 504 issued by then President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and amended by then President Corazon Aquino in 1988.
Lands classified under TSA are disposed through auction. The minimum allowable area for disposal is 200 square meters and a maximum of 250 square meters.
For MSA, the bases are Commonwealth Act 141 and Republic Acts 173 and 730 or the Public Land Act.
As opposed to TSA, MSA are disposed through direct sale. It does not provide a minimum size of the area applied for but provides a maximum of 1,000 square meters.
The DENR and the City Planning and Development Office are in favor of the proposal to reduce the minimum land area to be disposed under MSA.
CPDO chief Donna Tabangin said decreasing the land area will allow more residents of Baguio to own a property.
Based on her initial assessment, the high zonal value of land in Baguio precludes residents from buying a property so most lands under MSA are bought by “outsiders” or developers who are not based in Baguio and later develop these properties then sell through subdivision.
Based on guidelines of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, an area of about 1,000 square meters may be classified as a simple subdivision or areas measuring about one hectare.
As of 2019, there are 267 hectares alienable and disposable lands in Baguio that may be acquired through MSA, TSA, and residential free patent, according to Engr. Benjamin Ventura, OIC Assistant Regional Executive Director for Technical Services of the DENR. – Rimaliza A. Opiña