December 8, 2023

For the city government of Baguio to move forward with its plans of developing an engineered sanitary landfill within its claimed property at Barangay Sto. Tomas-Apugan, ancestral land claims at the area have to be clearly identified.
The city council pointed this out during its Feb. 20 session where it informed the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples that the absence of a timetable of how long it should act on ancestral land claims is also stalling the city government’s plans at the area.
Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda, chair of the city committee on environment, said the city wants to proceed with its plans but could not wait indefinitely.
“We honor claims that are legitimate but tell us which and when so we can also act because we need it for the ESL,” Tabanda told NCIP-Baguio Legal Officer Severino Lumiqued, as she requested the NCIP to come up with a timetable when it could act on these claims.
Lumiqued said in the 2020 revised guidelines, NCIP is given 15 days from filing of application to determine if there is cause for an applicant to file a claim. However, he admitted that NCIP-Baguio has liberally implemented this because of the constant revision of the guidelines in the acceptance and processing of ancestral land claim applications.
He asked for the city to bear with the NCIP but he assured that they will address the issue raised at the city council.
Tabanda said the NCIP should have long acted on the applications as these were filed way before the issuance of the 2020 guidelines.
Data provided by the NCIP-Baguio to the city council shows that of 138.5 hectare claim of the city, which cuts across Sto. Tomas, Camp 7, and Bakakeng, there are 12 pending ancestral land claim applications.
Ten of these applications are within Sto. Tomas. From these applications, a portion of the 67.226 hectare claim of the heirs of Sioco Carino falls within the property claimed by the city government.
City Administrator Bonifacio dela Peña previously announced that the city government will be pursuing its claim at Sto. Tomas and has tasked the City Engineering Office to make a final survey of the property.
He said the city can save more if it disposes its wastes within Baguio compared to the current practice where the garbage is transported to a landfill in Tarlac. – Rimaliza A. Opina