LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Mayor Romeo K. Salda reiterated a previous warning issued by the local government that there are no available lots for sale at the Puguis communal forest because it has never been classified as alienable and disposal and the fact remains that it is still under the name of the Republic of the Philippines.
Salda issued the warning after receiving reports that there were groups of alleged buyers of lots within the Puguis communal forest who had been reportedly conducting ocular inspections in the areas they allegedly bought from purported claimants of portions of the declared public land.
“We do not want innocent individuals from being duped into shelling out their hard-earned money to land speculators in exchange for portions of the Puguis communal forest when in fact, there are no lots that are for sale in any portion of the government property. Individuals who are being offered such deals should first consult concerned government agencies and the local government before giving out their money to the land speculators,” Mayor Salda stressed.
The local chief executive underscored that prospective buyers of lots in the town should not be easily swayed to part with their money in exchange for lots within the declared forest reservation because there are still legal actions that are pending relative to the status of questionable titles that had been previously issued covering some portions of the town’s communal forest.
According to him, the local government is trying its best to protect the government property from further encroachments by land speculators and buyers of lots because it is one of the remaining forest areas in the locality that serve as a potential source of water supply for the residents.
Salda expressed disappointment over the presence of willing buyers who already paid in advance huge sums of money to land speculators in exchange for lots in the reservation because they can no longer take back their money after learning that lots in the communal forest could not be subjected to sale as the same is not alienable and disposable.
He directed various offices of the local government in coordination with the elements of the La Trinidad Municipal Police Station to continue being vigilant on constructions in certain portions of the communal forest because there should be no new structures erected on the controversial portions of the forest reservation.
The local government is in the process of contesting previous issuances made by concerned government agencies that resulted to the sudden emergence of claimants and buyers of lots within some portions of the communal forest and that the same will be a long standing legal battle that might reach the Supreme Court (SC).
In 2015, the Land Registration Authority (LRA) allegedly issued a title to private claimants covering portions of the forest reservation but the same was not registered with the Register of Deeds and concerned officials were aware of the fact that the area covered by the questionable title was within the forest reservation that allowed the local government to also intervene, thus, the are remains a communal forest and not alienable and disposable.