May 24, 2024

Two indigenous peoples groups in Baguio have asked proponents of the city’s revised charter to delete the provisions in House Bill 8882, which they claimed are threats to the recognition of ancestral land claims in the city.
The First Citizens of Baguio City Organization (FCBCO) and Onjon ni Ivadoy said sections 51 and 54 of the revised charter of Baguio City runs contrary to the concept of ancestral land and the IP’s right over these, as espoused by the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act.
Section 51 of HB 8882 provides for the creation of special committee on lands, to be composed of the mayor and vice mayor, among others, and is tasked to assist the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and to serve as venue for the resolution of all land-related issues.
The provision further provides the committee shall protect the interest of the city and its long-time occupants, especially in the reviews of all ancestral land claims, conversions of lands, and disposition of public lands, among other things.
The IP groups said giving city officials the authority to review ancestral land claims runs contrary to the IPRA.
“Section 51 is a total blow to the ancestral land rights of IPs/indigenous cultural communities of Baguio City. The review by city officials on ancestral land claims renders the IPRA under and at the mercy of city officials,” the groups said in their position paper.
“If this provision in the proposed city charter amendment is not excluded or purged, it becomes the final nail to the coffin of ancestral land rights in Baguio City.”
Section 54 of HB 8882, meanwhile, provides the more than 625-hectare Camp John Hay reservation is no longer part of Baguio’s Townsite Reservation.
The IP groups said this provision runs counter to Proclamation 420, which recognized that the use and disposition of the lands comprising the John Hay reservation is subject to private rights.
“The lands clearly involved are ancestral lands within the barangays occupied by the IPs – Loakan Proper, Loakan Liwanag, Happy Hallow, Camp 7, and Loakan Apugan. We believe that while the properties assigned to the Bases Conversion Development Authority belongs to the national government, it graciously provided for the rights and interest of concerned IPs/ICCs,” the groups said.
Last week, the technical working group of the Senate Committee on Local Government chaired by Sen. Francis Tolentino met with city officials led by Rep. Mark Go and Mayor Benjamin Magalong and representatives of national government line agencies to polish and reconcile some of the conflicting provisions of Senate Bill 2163 authored by Sen. Imee Marcos and HB 8882 authored by Go and Kalinga Rep. Allen Jesse Mangaoang.
The FCBCO and Onjon in Ivadoy said they should have been included in a public consultation before HB 8882 was crafted to enlighten stakeholders of ancestral land rights.
“They were not notified and were deprived of public consultation. We believe the situation results in lack of democratic accountability,” the groups said.
“The passage of HB 8882 will be immoral, if not illegal. We ask for the exclusion and deletion of all provisions affecting and involving the provisions of the IPRA.” – Jane B. Cadalig