BAGUIO CITY – The City Legal Office (CLO) assailed the validity of Transfer Certificates of Titles (TCTs) emanating from Certificates of Ancestral Land Titles (CALTs).
In a July 19 indorsement noted by CLO Officer-in-Charge Melchor Carlos Rabanes, the CLO through Attorney IV Isagani Liporada said TCTs emanating from CALTs have no legal bases.
The CLO explained Section 52 (k) of Republic Act (RA) 8371, the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), only mandates registration of CALTs by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) with the Registry of Deeds.
“RA 8371 has no provisions for issuance of subsequent titles or TCTs akin to Section 43 of P.D. 1529 (Property Registration Decree) unless the ancestral land is covered by Torrens title obtained through Section 12 of the IPRA, in which case section 43 of PD 1529 may be invoked”.
Section 43 of PD 1529 provides for issuance of TCTs after land covered by OCTs are conveyed.
“In fact, the NCIP in its En Banc Resolution No. 083-2012 even admits, it has no policy on the issuance of derivative titles from issued CALTs,” the CLO added.
The CLO stressed, the IPRA “provides for a ‘one-time’ registration of CALTs only.”
Such registration, “Sufficiently recognizes past, present and future rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICC/IP).”
Meantime, “’Indigenous concept of ownership’ assumes that ancestral lands serve as the material bases of the ICCs/IPs cultural integrity, being property belonging to all generations of the same ICCs/IPs (and) therefore, it cannot be sold, disposed of or destroyed.”
Thus, the CLO added, “This recognition is the very reason why transfer of rights over lands covered by CALTs are limited to members of the same ICCs or IPs only….”
The legal opinion comes in the heels of a request for a zoning compliance certificate by one Trinidad Comia addressed to City Planning and Development Coordinator, Engr. Evelyn Cayat who holds a TCT emanating from CALT No.CAR-BAG-1109-232 in the name of one Elias Paus.
But the CLO in its opinion recommended denial of the request stating, “The purported right of the applicant (is) specious… [I]ssuance of the requested zoning compliance certificate for purposes of securing building permit (will be) violative of the letter and spirit of Republic Act 8371 and the Public Land Act”.
It added issuance of the requested zoning compliance certificate by the Local Zoning Board of Adjustment and Appeals (LZBAA) would have the LZBAA liable for violating State policy “to recognize, respect and protect the rights of the ICCs/IPs to preserve and development their culture, traditions and institutions – all anchored upon the purported ‘ancestral land’ covered by (the subject title).”
Meanwhile, the CLO stressed “ancestral lands” are defined as those “occupied, possessed and utilized by individuals, families and clans who are members of the ICCs/IPs since time immemorial…continuously to the present.”
Thus, when Elias Paus Sr. et. al. being the purported owners of the land covered by a CALT “alienated portions of the property…, they effectively divested said property of its character as ‘ancestral land’ and them, the right to defend their ‘individual claims’ over said property as ICCs/IPs.”
“Unfortunately, applicant (Comia) cannot have rights greater than that of her predecessor,” the CLO wrote, hinting Comia never acquired rights over portions of the property she now claims.
In a separate interview, Liporada lauded IPRA prime-mover, the late Senator Juan Flavier.
“Flavier was a genius. He introduced the ‘theory of preservation’ through the IPRA by shifting the responsibility of environmental and ancestral land care to IPs/ICCs.”
Liporada explained, “Under this theory, if you are an IP, you will protect your land because it is the basis of your culture, your being an IP. By enrolling land under the CALT system, your culture is, therefore, guaranteed longevity; and, government is even mandated to support you in such endeavor.”
“In this sense, conveying ancestral lands to non-IPs/ICCs is diametrically opposed to the very intention of the IPRA, that is, to preserve the ancestral lands for future generations to come.”
Relatedly, the subject lot was also found by the CLO to overlap with Proclamation No. 603 series of 1940 reserving said land for animal breeding purposes under the Bureau of Animal Industry.
Under Section 78 of the IPRA, a provision specifically affecting lands in Baguio City, “Prior land rights and titles recognized and/or acquired through any judicial, administrative or other processes before the effectivity of (the IPRA) shall remain valid…”
To this the CLO intimated, “Since Proclamation No. 603 granted the (BAI) prior rights through an administrative process under the Public Land Act before the effectivity of the IPRA, the same therefore remains valid and should be respects.”
By Aileen P. Refuerzo