June 24, 2024

■  Rimaliza A. Opiña 

The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples en banc has issued on April 8 an advisory concerning applications for the issuance of ancestral land titles in Baguio City, pursuant to the final Supreme Court decision.

The decision stated  Baguio shall continue to be governed by its charter and all lands proclaimed as part of its townsite reservation shall remain as such unless reclassified by a legislation. 

The decision also recognized “prior” land rights or those issued certificates of ancestral land titles (CALTs) or certificates of ancestral land claims (CALCs) through administrative, judicial, or other processes prior to the approval of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act.

City officials and the NCIP-Cordillera however said the SC decision clipped the authority of the NCIP in determining ancestral lands and will affect pending and future ancestral land rights due to the encompassing phrase stating “Baguio shall continue to be governed by its charter and all lands are part of its townsite reservation unless reclassified.”

In the advisory, the NCIP en banc enumerated five categories where it may process or issue CALTs or CALCs.

These are: Any of the remaining untitled Igorot claims originally acknowledged on Jan. 14, 1960, under Proclamation 638;

Any of the remaining additional 258 untitled Igorot claims, which were recommended by the Committee Investigation the Claims of Native in Baguio, established by then President Ramon Magsaysay;

Ancestral land claims previously recognized by the courts but have yet to be issued with titles;

Areas which became part of Baguio after passage of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA); and

Other areas outside the classification of the townsite reservation such as those delineated under Proclamation 414, s. 1957.

Proclamation 414 signed by then President Carlos Garcia excluded barangays Loakan-Apugan, Atok Trail, and Kias from the townsite reservation and were instead classified as mineral reservations.

Meanwhile, in accordance with the revised charter of Baguio, the NCIP referred to the Special Committee on Lands the petitions or applications processed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, but which were not acted upon by the NCIP due to the SC decisions.

The NCIP also said processing of claims within the townsite reservation is suspended until further notice.