Issuance of permits for owners of alienable, disposal lands pushed

BAGUIO CITY September 06 – The City Council approved on first reading a proposed ordinance directing the City Building Official to issue bidding permits to applicants who are in actual, physical and notorious possession in the concept of an owner for 30 years or more public lands classified as alienable and disposable covering structures and for other purposes.

The ordinance authored by Councilor Edgar Avila stated the measure will cure the alleged anomalous situation and would enhance the pertinent provisions of Republic Act (RA) 6541 or the National Building Code. In the exercise of the local legislative body's power and invoking parens patriae, a local law can provide for measures to curtail the impact of national law which is proving to be 'injurious' to the rights of its people.

The ordinance noted that because of the special nature of lands in the city, a majority of the residents have not been reportedly given the opportunity to title the lands they have constructed on under the present Torrens system.

Further, the ordinance added though the residents had been in actual, physical and notorious possession of public lands in the concept of an owner as defined in the Civil Code of the Philippines, the threat of being declared illegal settlers, squatters and violators of Presidential Decree (PD) 1096 as amended by RA 6541 continue to hang over their heads like the Sword of Damocles.

As such, the ordinance claimed that protestors, claimants, prospective buyers and speculators have time and again used a complaint for violation of PD 1096 or building a structure without permit as a potent weapon to dispossess, harass, or even grab possession and ownership over the lands in question.

Avila pointed out the anomaly of the situation is when one applies through a town site sales, miscellaneous sales application with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) through its Administrative Order (AO) 504 Clearing Committee or for a Certificate of Ancestral Land Title (CALT) or Certificate of Ancestral Land Claim (CLC) with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), one of the requirements is the introduction of improvements on the property to show proof of possession or in support of their application.

The ordinance stipulated that effective upon approval of the measure, the City Mayor upon the recommendation of the Chairman of Urban Planning, Lands and Housing of the local legislative body in coordination with the AO 504 Clearing Committee of the DENR shall direct the City Building Official to issue a building permit to any individual who has been or through his predecessor-in-interest been in actual, physical and notorious possession of public lands in the concept of an wonder for 30 years or more, provided that, a structure has been built therein, provided further that, within the said period, he or she has declared the improvements for taxation purposes with the office of the City Assessor.

However, the ordinance does not apply to those who built structures on titled properties, lands classified as mining, forest, timber and other lands not classified as alienable and disposable, road-right-of-way and identified city land needs, lands owned by the national government in its patrimonial character and other lands as may be determined by the body.

By Dexter A. See

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