Tribal lands ending up in private hands–study
BAGUIO CITY—The country’s indigenous rights law needs to be amended to allow the government to buy back ancestral lands that have been sold to land prospectors and people who do not belong to indigenous Filipino groups, a university law dean here said.
In a paper presented last week at the University of the Cordilleras, College of Law Dean Reynaldo Agranzamendez said the spirit of Republic Act No. 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (Ipra) is being eroded by the sale of ancestral lands for which some Baguio Ibaloi families now hold certificates of ancestral land title (CALT).
In August, city officials complained about CALTs encroaching into forest reservations, parks and even a portion of the presidential Mansion, which were issued by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and affirmed in January by the Court of Appeals.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan said he believed many of the beneficiaries were not genuine Ibaloi land claimants and had been selling their ancestral lands contrary to a provision which allows ancestral land sales only to family or tribal community members using customary laws.
Agranzamendez said the flaw was in Ipra itself because it allowed the CALT holders a period to redeem lands sold to nonindigenous peoples (IP) members.
The government had filed 10 lawsuits, through the Office of the Solicitor General, to nullify the CALTs, he said.
“The Ipra … is meant to be a vehicle for liberty and prosperity for indigenous peoples as it seeks to address historical injustices against them by recognizing their customary laws on land acquisition and ownership,” Agranzamendez said in his paper.
“[But] the law … is now being used by land speculators for personal gain,” he said. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon