BAGUIO CITY – The City Council approved on first reading a proposed ordinance providing amnesty on building permit requirements for those in actual physical and notorious possession of public lands in the concept of an owner and for other purposes.
The ordinance authored by Councilor Edgar M. Avila stated that the local legislative measure will be known as the Magna Carta for Land Possessors in Baguio and effective upon the enactment of the measure, the City Mayor upon the recommendation of the Chairman on Urban Planning, Lands and Housing shall issue a mayor’s tolerance permit to any individual who has been or through his predecessor-in-interest have been in actual, physical and notorious possession of public lands in the concept of an owner defined in the Civil Code of the Philippines for 30 years, provided that, a residential house or structure has been built, provided further, that within the said period, he has declared the improvements for taxation purposes with the City Assessor’s Office.
The ordinance added the applicant for the Mayor’s Tolerance Permit shall submit to the Chairman of the Committee on Urban Planning, Lands and Housing an undertaking that he will perfect his claim, application or award into a private right or title issued by the Register of Deeds for the city within 10 years from the issuance of the permit in his name, otherwise, the permit shall be automatically revoked and appropriate action shall be taken by the concerned city department.
Upon application and approval of a Mayor’s Tolerance Permit, the ordinance stated the effects of a Demolition Order issued by the City Anti-Squatting Committee under the City Administrator or the City Building Official shall be suspended for a period of 10 years from the issuance of the permit in his name to afford the applicant the last opportunity to perfect his claim, application or award into a private right or title.
The ordinance explained because of the special nature of lands in the city and majority of its constituents have not been given the opportunity to have the lands they have constructed on to be titled under the present system and though they have been in actual, physical and notorious possession of public lands in the concept of an owner defined in the Civil code, the threat of being declared illegal settlers, squatters and violators of Presidential Decree (PD) 1097 as amended by Republic Act 6541 or the National Building Code continue to hang over their heads.
As such oppositors, claimants, prospective buyers and speculators have time and again used a complaint about a violation of PD 1096 or building without a permit as a potent weapon to dispossess, harass or even rob possession and ownership over the lands in question.
The ordinance admitted the measure could not and never would amend or revise PD 1096 as amended by RA 6541 but in the exercise of its legislative power and invoking parens patriae, a local law can provide for measures to curtail the impact of a national law that is injurious to the rights of its people.
By Dexter A. See