P-Noy told: Stop cancellation of Baguio ancestral land titles

>> Wednesday, November 26, 2014

BAGUIO CITY – President Aquino was urged by indigenous peoples here who were given titles over their ancestral lands and domains to stop moves of offices under the Office of the President to have such titles canceled.

The titles were issued (some in the process) over prime lands including Camp John Hay.

Claimants/owners included heirs of Cosen Piraso over Casa Vallejo, heirs of Josephine M. Abanag in Pacdal and Lauro Carantes in South Drive.

Manuel Cuilan and Alfonso Aroco, lawyers of owners or claimants of ancestral land claimants told a press conference here Thursday it was unfair moves were being initiated by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and Bases Conversion Development Authority to cancel or stop processing of ancestral land titles given to their clients.

Both the NCIP and BCDA are under the Office of the President.

We appeal to President Aquino to put a stop to this injustice
of not recognizing the legitimate ancestral land rights of our clients, Cuilan and Aroco said.

The lawyers said after 17 years of implementation of Republic Act 8371 or the IPRA law, indigenous peoples who are owners or claimants of ancestral lands in Baguio City are faced with cancellation of their Certificate of Ancestral Land Title (CALT) and certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) and reversion.

The latest case of cancellation was reportedly embodied in NCIP en banc resolution dated Oct. 7, declaring cancellation of ancestral land titles 302, 303 and 304 even as resolving portion of the resolution called for an “investigation” on the matter.

“This is putting the cart ahead of the horse,” Aroco said. “There should have been an investigation first before such cancellation (of the titles.)”Cuilan said investigation should have been done years ago over issuance of such titles.

The NCIP resolution was signed by Commissioners Percy G. Brawner, Dionesia O, Banua, Era C. Espana, Bayani D. Dumaoang, Cosme M. Lambayaon, Zenaida Brigida H. Pawid and Chairperson Leonor T. Oralde-Quintayo.

“We are asking the NCIP and BCDA to correct themselves first, thus the Office of the President should ask these two agencies to get together and resolve issues,” Cuilan said.
Aroco added they would be filing cases against BCDA and NCIP should they persist in cancelling or reverting ancestral lands of their clients.
The lots involved those claimed or owned by the heirs of Cosen Piraso, Josephine Abanag and Lauro Carantes.

The cancellation of the ALTs (ancestral land titles) is tantamount to cancellation of the CALTs because it will now appear that these ancestral lands were not issued titles at all. This is now fair to the ancestral land claimants or owners and not in accordance with procedure,” the ancestral land claimants/owners said in a press statement.

“All these ALTs were registered with the Register of Deeds of Baguio City. The report that these ALTs were not officially releasedis not an issue but a matter of record keeping and is an internal problem, so it should not affect the ancestral land claimants/owners.)

The NCIP resolution reportedly called for an investigation by the Land Claims Office, Legal Affairs Office, Clerk of the Commission and once from NCIP-Cordillera Administrative Region. All of these bodies are under the NCIP.

“The ADO issues and types the CALT and keeps the record. How can ADO investigate itself? Aroco and Cuilan said copies of the ancestral land titles are missing in the NCIP central office.
Ancestral land owners showed a copy to the media at El Cielito Inn Thursday of an original CALT issued by the NCIP in 2009.

Cancellation of CALTs/CADT and reversion of ancestral lands and domains were earlier reportedly filed with the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City by the Solicitor General for and in behalf of the BCDA.

These included lands owned and claimed by heirs of Kellet, Morie Shodang; ancestral domain of Happy Hollow and six clans identified as Canuto, Siso, Itlongay, Paytocan, Liwan and Otinguey.

Representatives of the clans during the press conference included Pacita Medina for Otinguey clan, Chona Espina Jaymae Lou Kubulan for Kellet and Richard Acop for Piraso.

The ground for cancellation and reversion of these ancestral lands, according to the BCDA, was because these form part of the former American military base of Camp John Hay and therefore remained with public domain owned by the State.

The BCDA said as per Republic Act 7227, these lands were turned over to the BCDA and therefore not covered by the IPRA law.

Cuilan however said under the IPRA, ancestral lands even those purportedly owned by the State like military bases are rightfully owned by indigenous peoples and in the case of their clients, they went through the process until they were given titles while some are still being processed.

According to claimants/ land owners, the RTC had no jurisdiction over cases filed by the BCDA because it should have been filed with the NCIP.

 The RTC judge reportedly issued an order dismissing cases for lack of jurisdiction. The BCDA reportedly appealed the case to the Supreme Court where it is pending.

As per resolution No. 362, series of 1994 of the Sangguniang Panglunsod of Baguio City adopted on Sept. 7, 1994, conditionalities over the taking over of John Hay after control over Camp John Hay was returned to the Philippine Government by the US included those on ancestral land claims over the area.

“Ancestral claims covering portions of Camp John Hay shall not be considered as closed as instead treated as pending so that from the time an ancestral law is passed by Congress implementing the provisions of the 1987 Constitution, the said claims should be decided by the appropriate administrative body or the courts or whoever are entitled shall be given due and just compensation,” a part of the 19 conditionalities stated.

Part of conditionalities by the city government stated: “The BCDA shall exclude all barangays from the John Hay reservation. BCDA must comply with all conditions set by the City of Baguio as host community of the Camp John Hay economic zone.”
To date, the BCDA had reportedly installed a checkpoint at the road entrance to Happy Hollow barangay and residents have to ask for permission from the BCDA to bring in commodities or materials to repair their houses even during storms. – Alfred Dizon


3 die in Isabela road mishap

By RaymundCatindig 

NAGUILLAN, Isabela – Three persons died while two others were injured when their sport utility vehicle collided with a truck here before dawn Wednesday
Mary Jane Sales, her cousin Jessie, and Rodel Crisostomo died at the scene.

Sales’ husband Eduardo and brother Joniper Edrada were brought to a hospital for treatment, said Senior Insp. Edwin Castro, Naguilian police chief.

Reports said the victims were on their way home from Cauayan City when the accident occurred in Barangay Magsaysay at around 2 a.m.

Truck driver Jed Bugaoisan, 29, of San Mariano, Isabela, surrendered to the authorities.


P100,000 for witnesses setin newsman’s slay

By Maria Teresa Benas

BANGUED, Abra– The Abra Provincial Peace and Order Council is offering P100,000 cash reward to anyone who will come out as witness in the murder of Jacinto “Jack” Turqueza, a news reporter, former employee of the provincial government and  administrative officer of Abra Provincial Prosecutor's Office.

Gov. Eustaquio P. Bersamin announced this during a PPOC  meeting Nov. 12  at provincial capitol.

The additional cash reward from the Abra-PPOC ups reward money  to  P200,000 as Guardians Reform Advocacy and Cooperation towards Economic Prosperity (GRACE) of Baguio City earlier committed P100,000.00 as reward to anyone who witnessed the murder of Turqueza.

Bersamin said he was hopeful the cash reward would initiate cooperation from people towards solution of the case.

Turqueza, was shot dead  in this capital town last October  by two unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle.
The Abra provincial police office is again feeling the heat from officials and the populace because of alarming increase in crime in the province especially particularly those committed by men riding in tandem on motorcycles.

Because of deteriorating peace and order condition in the province especially in the capital town, the governor said  the PGA will procure CCTV cameras and install these in conspicuous areas. This way, the APPO can take immediate action on crime incidents that they monitor through  CCTV cameras.

It was also recommended by the body to the PNP to strengthen the witness protection program with the help of the council.

Col. Paul T. Atal, commander of the 503rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army   expressed his support to peace initiatives and efforts of the PGA and PPOC.

He said the Philippine army is mandated to support the PNP in law enforcement operations.

This mandate, Atal said, is aside from their primary mandate of counter-insurgency.


Mayor urges PNP: Give nominees for police chief

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan urged the Philippine National Police to submit names of five nominees for the top police post in the city for the city to have a full-fledged police chief.

The mayor said he had composed the screening committee that will undertake the selection process and the group will convene as soon as the list was submitted.

“The committee will evaluate the merits of each of the applicants and the one who will top the selection will be recommended to the position,” the mayor said.

He said the City Justice Peace and Order Council earlier approved a resolution also asking the PNP to submit the names to start selection process.

The mayor said the last information they received was that the list has been submitted for signing by interior and local government (DILG) secretary Mar Roxas.

“That was three months and up to now, we have yet to receive the list,” the mayor said.
“I hope they can send the list soon so we can speed up the selection and our city will have its permanent police chief,” the mayor said.

The city’s present police head Sr. Supt. Rolando Miranda assumed as acting police chief on March 5 amid opposition by local officials who expressed displeasure over the unceremonious replacement of then police chief Jesus Cambay Jr.

Miranda has remained in his post despite the lapse of the 30-day tenure supposedly given to police heads in acting capacity due to the absence of a full-fledged police chief.

Miranda, who hails from Bulacan, is currently on vacation and in his absence, another officer-in-charge was appointed -- a situation which Domogan finds comical. 

“It’s a comic situation in the city which only underscores the need for the city to have a full-fledged police chief selected by the city itself,” he said.

The mayor has in the past criticized hasty replacements and appointments of new police chiefs stressing the need to involve the local government units in the selection process to ensure that the suitable ones are appointed.

At one point, a police chief’s origin and residence became an issue when the city police chief at that time kept a weekend homecoming schedule to be with his family in the lowlands, making him ineffective in his post. This prompted his predecessor, another lowlander, to relocate his family to the city, so he can fully serve even during weekends and holidays. 


More blooms, events set for Panagbenga festiva

BAGUIO CITY – The country’s summer capital will bloom soon with more with flowers and greens literally carpeting the city’s central business district.

On its 20th staging in February 2015, Panagbenga — or the Baguio Flower Festival — will feature more blooms and color, according to Anthony De Leon, Baguio Flower Festival Foundation chairman, as  officials launched last week the month-long festival.

The festival was launched here Nov. 17 during regular flag ceremony at city hall grounds with Mayor Mauricio Domogan officiating.

On its 20th staging, Panagbenga or the Baguio Flower Festival will have traditional activities: children’s parade on Feb. 1, market encounter, street dance parade and flower float parade on the third weekend,  Session Road in Bloom, sports exhibition and competition, Pony Boys’ day, and a grand closing program with fireworks in various venues.

According to Domogan, the opening parade serves as elimination round for the drum and lyre and elementary streetdancing parade category.

The city is allotting P4 million for festival prizes and other expenses, the mayor added.  

The mayor broached the idea of having four street dance categories; elementary, high school, college and open category. The number of participants dwindled due to some participants’ consistent winning of top awards, thus placing them in the hall of fame. Mayor Domogan said fall-of-famers are urged to join the competitions again.

In a press conference after Panagbenga 2014, several suggestions were given for the next festival, including having city and barangay officials, participants from the La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay (BLISTT), out-of-town or regional contingent-guests join with choreographed dancing to the tune of the Panagbenga Hymn, as patterned from the steps of the IbaloiBendian.

Contingents are also encouraged to join with their own flower floats. Invitations for media coverage for the 20th version of Panagbenga should be floated early, local counterparts said.

Considering that the festival entices more visitors than what could be provided sufficient housing, provisions for parking, housing or camping spaces should be given more thought for Panagbenga 2015, it was urged. It has been observed that more tourists and some locals have opted to set up tents and catch up with Baguio’s February chill.   

“The original concept of community participation — barangays participating in the cleanest and greenest and the flower landscaping competitions will be revived. More students from elementary, high school and college
will also see action in the grand street dancing parade,” said De Leon.

He added that the week-long “Session in Bloom” will not only see the usual selling of local wares, flowers and plants, but will showcase booths with their frontages landscaped from the center of the road to the sidewalks.
“We want to see more flowers and greens, which is the real concept of the flower festival,” De Leon said.

This year’s theme: “20 years of blossoming together,” will showcase the participation of all sectors of the Cordillera community and of groups coming from the different provinces of the country. – With a report from Julie G. Fianza


DOH-Cordillera prepares for deadly Ebola threat

By Redjie Melvic Cawis

BAGUIO CITY -- The Department of Health – Cordillera is now preparing to respond to Ebola virus disease once it will enter the country.

Although the Philippines is still Ebola virus- free, DOH-CAR regional director Jesus Valeriano Lopez said the DOH  started preparing facilities and health workers    to be ready  to respond.

Lopez said the DOH in coordination with the World Health Organization, has started conducting specialized training programs for health workers on how to detect and treat cases of EVD and prevent the spread of the disease.

In a statement, the DOH said that the training will provide a deeper understanding of EVD, its transmission and epidemiology. It will also enhance the participants’ practical skills in particular areas (such as personal protection, security and safety). The knowledge and skills gained from the training is expected to increase the capacity of the national health system to prevent or respond if an imported case of EVD in the Philippines occurs. 

Lopez said the facilities of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center which were prepared for the MERS COV and other infectious diseases are still available though these needed upgrade.

Meanwhile, as part of the DOH’s preparation for the possible entry of EVD in the country, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine has developed a triage system for suspected cases of EVD. 

Patient screening and evaluation as well as infection control practices are in place. First-line health workers in the management of cases are being trained in the donning and removing of personal protective equipment (PPE), adequate supply of PPE is available.

The RITM is upgrading DOH’s major laboratory hospitals from Biosafety Level (BSL) 2 to BSL 3 or 4 for the detection, treatment, and containment of potentially high-risk infectious agents. The National Reference Center primarily uses molecular detection methods that ensure sensitive and rapid diagnosis.

Baguio Mayor Mauricio Domogan earlier advised the public for sobriety amid the Ebola virus scare.

He recently convened the different health stakeholders in the city to discuss the threat of Ebola and the city's preparedness and capability to handle it. He emphasized the national government is currently doing its efforts to ensure Ebola virus will not enter the country through a thorough quarantine of tourists, overseas Filipino workers and migrants from other countries particularly those with Ebola outbreaks like in West and Central Africa.

Symptoms of the Ebola virus are sudden onset of headache, muscle pain, fever fatigue and sore throat. Usually it is followed by rash, diarrhea, vomiting and even internal and external bleeding.


Farmers cooperatives urged: Expand for ASEAN trade

By Dexter A. See 

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Farmers cooperatives in the province must continue widening their membership and expanding their areas of coverage in order to allow locally produced agricultural crops to sustain the stiff competition during the implementation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) free trade next year, Gov. Nestor Fongwan said here Wednesday.

Fongwan said the direct impact of the zero tariff on goods and services cannot be solved by the individual farmers but it could be addressed by the combined efforts of the agriculture industry stakeholders through cooperativism.

He said it is high time for farmers to adopt crop programming to be able to guarantee the year-round supply of semi-temperate vegetables which will be able to compete in the global trade.

“Our farmers must already secure the certification from concerned government agencies that they already practice good agricultural practices from the production areas to the post-harvest operations so that their produce will be able to make it to the international market,” Fongwan said.

He admitted the major problem confronting local farmers cooperatives is the inability of the groups to sustain the supply of highland vegetables to both wet market and high-end consumers, thus, the need for them to widen their membership and expand their areas of coverage to be able to ensure consistent supply of vegetables for a period of 376 days and beyond.

With a bigger capital, the governor explained cooperatives will be able to provide value added to their produce and ensure their marketability in the international market considering that local agricultural crops are much fresher, juicer, crispier and sweeter compared to the same highland vegetables, particularly cabbage, lettuce, carrots, potatoes, peas, cauliflower, beans, pepper among others, which come from other neighboring countries.

He said farmers who are GAP-certified will be the priority farmers whose products will be shipped to other neighboring countries in order to be sold and compete with other international products, thus, farmers must make sure that they observe quality and food safety from the selection of seeds to be planted, judicious use of fertilizers and pesticides, proper sanitation in the agricultural areas, proper harvesting techniques to avoid severe damages, proper storage among other post-harvest operations and marketing.

In terms of health and sanitation, agriculture experts recommended to farmers to build their own toilets or cluster of toilets in their farms in order to prevent human waste from being washed through the fields and that animals should also not be allowed in the production areas to prevent animal waste from being mixed with their produce.

Benguet is still producer of at least 80 percent of the highland vegetables being sold in the different parts of the country and that the local vegetable industry provides livelihood to over 250,000 individuals in the 13 vegetable-producing municipalities.

Loreto Boyaan, an official of the Benguet Farmers Federation, said it is high time for vegetable farmers to work as a group and combat the expected negative effects of the ASEAN free trade by pooling their resources and putting value added to their produce by being able to properly package their products for the stiffer competitions in the global market.

“We have to face the problems of the ASEAN free trade squarely because we know are produce can compete in terms of quality. It is only in the packaging and marketing where we have to improve,” Boyaan stressed.

Boyaan appealed to fellow farmers and cooperatives in the province to get their acts together in order to help them combat the serious negative effects of the free trade to their produce considering that pricing will be one of the major problems that they will encounter, thus, the need for government agencies to help in reducing the prices of farm inputs in order to help lower the selling price of their end products.

He said government must consider providing initial subsidy to the farmers in order to sustain their abundant produce which will be enough to meet the quality and pricing demands of the global market.


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