SolGen looks into ancestral title ‘invasion’ of presidential Mansion | Inquirer News
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SolGen looks into ancestral title ‘invasion’ of presidential Mansion

/ 10:11 PM December 24, 2013

The government has been alarmed about ancestral land titles that overlapped with government land within the jurisdiction of the presidential Mansion in Baguio City. EV ESPIRITU/ INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) is looking into the titling of an ancestral land claim that includes a portion of the century-old presidential Mansion, after an Ibaloi family sued to stop a government project there.

The Ibaloi Abanag family, holder of a certificate of ancestral land title (CALT), has asked the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to stop the state-owned Peoples Television Network (PTV 4) from constructing a regional building at the former Cordillera House compound, which is part of the Mansion property.

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The Abanag family won a Court of Appeals ruling in January which affirmed 28 certificates for lots encompassing the Mansion and Wright Park.

The certificates were granted through an NCIP resolution dated November 10, 2010, according to court and NCIP documents. The NCIP has been addressing the land claims of Baguio Ibalois, who were displaced when the American colonial government built the summer capital in 1909.

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The Abanag family sought a writ of preliminary injunction against PTV 4. But OSG lawyer Ma. Dolores Rigonan informed the clan at an NCIP adjudication hearing on Monday that the national government was pursuing the nullification of the titles.

Rigonan also urged Marion Abanag, who represented the heirs of Quintin and Josephine Abanag at the hearing, to address their complaint to the Office of the President (OP), which oversees the Mansion compound.

The Cordillera House is under the custody of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA). The OP has allowed PTV 4 to install its regional station behind the PIA facility.

Lawyer Ma. Teresa Rivera-Guillermo, counsel for the Department of Public Works and Highways, which is constructing the PTV 4 building, said the agency had suspended work since April because of the lawsuit.

The government and the Abanags agreed to stop any activities within the property until the NCIP rules on the petition.

“Right now, we are focused on [the Abanag’s petition to secure] a writ of preliminary injunction [against PTV 4] but we will file a proper action to cancel the NCIP title,” Rigonan told the Inquirer.

She said the Mansion compound is covered by a 1907 title that was issued during the American colonial government, after it built the summer capital. The property was registered in 1941 before the start of World War II.

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The Baguio government has also pursued nullification suits against the Abanags because of their titles’ impact on Wright Park, and other families with CALTs that intrude into government forest reservations.

But the city government has not set its sights on voiding all ancestral land titles issued in Baguio.  Vincent Cabreza and Kimberlie Quitasol, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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TAGS: ancestral domain, Ancestral Land, Baguio City, Ibaloi, Office of the Solicitor General, The Mansion
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