Mayor: No let-up on Forbes Park lot fight

BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan Wednesday assured that there will be no let-up in the city’s fight to recover the Forbes Park lots erroneously awarded to private individuals.

“We will continue to fight for the nullification of the spurious titles issued for these lots to reclaim and maintain them as part of our forest reservation,” the mayor said.

The mayor said that as a result of his appeal to President Benigno Aguino III recently, the city has received commitment from the Office of the Solicitor General to fast-track the filing of the petition for the nullification of the Certificates of Ancestral Land Title (CALTs) issued by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) over the lots.

He said the city will continue coordinating with the OSG to ensure that said petition will be filed at the soonest possible time.

The mayor said the OSG has the sole authority to initiate proceedings for the cancellation of the CALTS.

He expressed hopes that the law on said procedures will be amended to include the private offended parties in the proceedings.

The mayor also assured that the city will also continue to guard the area to ensure that no land developments and constructions will take place.

The mayor said the structures recently built at the disputed site were demolished last week on account that these are not covered by building and fencing permit.

He warned that any structure that will be constructed in the area will suffer the same fate.

He also appealed to the people to refrain from buying said lots to avoid being dragged into the problem.

“We maintain that these lots are not alienable and part of our forest reservation and the titles issued to them are not valid so let us be wise and not allow our hard-earned money go to waste,” he said.

The mayor maintained that Forbes Park is a protected area and is not one of the Igorot claims qualified for disposition as ancestral land as per section 78 of Republic Act No. 8371 or the Indigenous People’s Rights Act.

He said the CALTs issued over the reservation are invalid as it violates section 78 of the IPRA law.

The city government during the time of former mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. last year initiated the proceedings to reclaim the lots by asking the Solicitor General to file appropriate cases for the recovery of the subject lots.

The city through its city legal office headed by Melchor Carlos Rabanes in October last year filed a civil case for injunction with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary injunction to protect the city’s interest on the lots to enjoin the Register of Deeds from processing transactions involving the CALTs after the ROD’s denial of the annotation or registration of the city’s adverse claim on the assailed NCIP titles.

The case is still pending before the Regional Trial Court here.

Apart from the civil case, the city also at the same time filed before the Office of the Ombudsman an administrative case against NCIP commissioners Atty. Eugenio Insigne, Rolando Rivera, Rizalino Segundo, Atty. Noel Felongco, Jannette Serrano-Reisland, Felecito Masagnay and Miguel Imbing Apostol who awarded the subject lots to the heirs of Lauro Carantes for issuing the title which is “highly irregular, anomalous and illegal in view of the fact that Forbes Forest Reservation is an inalienable forest reserve which was withdrawn from sale of settlement by virtue of Proclamation No. 10 issued on February 9, 1924.”

The CALTs were issued through the NCIP over portions of Forbes Park Parcels I and II on November 12, 2008 and registered with the Register of Deeds, Baguio City on April 7, 2009 covering the following areas all in the name of the Heirs of Lauro Carantes represented by Antino Carantes married to Espenilla Carantes, with residence and postal address at Purok I, Poblacion, Itogon, Benguet: O-CALT-26 containing an area of 89,242 square meters; O-CALT-27 containing an area of 2,327 square meters; O-CALT-28 containing an area of 34,855 square meter; and O-CALT-29 containing an area of 112,603 square meters for  a total aggregate area of 239,027 square meters.

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