SABANGAN, Mountain Province November 12 – A Petition for a Citizen and Class Suit for the Enforcement of Rights and Obligations under Environmental Laws, issuance of a Permanent Environmental Protection Order (PEPO) and cancellation of tax declarations was filed by some 42 residents of Sabangan, Mt. Prov. and non-residents who hail from said municipality last October 28, 2015.
The Petition seeks to recover and stop the developments and excavations being conducted at Barangay Data in Sabangan, site of decades-old Barangay picnics and Scout jamborees.
The case for the Petition was raffled to Judge Joseph Patnaan of Branch 35 Bontoc Regional Trial Court who issued a Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) last November 5, 2015 effective for a period of 72 hours or 3 days upon notice to the parties.
The subject of the Petition is the vast track of land located at Am-Amoting/Batacang in Barangay Data, Sabangan which has been classified as “outside the Alienable and Disposable Zone” as per Land Classification Map No. 2017 and certified as such since July 30, 1956 by the Director of Forestry during said period.
But the said area has now been tax declared to private individuals named as private respondents to the Petition.
The tax declarations were allegedly issued in the names of Spouses Robles and Rose Maliones, Spouses Edward and Rosita Quino, George Bati-el and Eugenio Sawate. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) represented by its Regional Director for Cordillera Engr. Ralph Pablo, representatives of the Provincial and Municipal Assessors Office and Barangay Captain of Data, Sabangan were named as public respondents.
The petitioners contend that the said tax declared vast track of land is where the Datanians freely pastured their farm animals, venue for their barangay picnics and scout jamboree of students and pupils of the Municipality of Sabangan and the entire province of Mt. Province for decades.
They further lament that, “because it is now tax declared in the names of private respondents, they claimed it as their private lands. They introduced and are continuously introducing improvements on the land to the exclusion of the general populace of Barangay Data”.
In the first hearing held last November 10, 2015 in Bontoc, Atty. Mario Somebang Timario Jr., counsel and likewise co-petitioner, asked the court that the TEPO issued be extended until the hearings for the case is concluded. Patnaan has not acted on the said Motion by the petitioners yet.