By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
Posted by Bulatlat
BAGUIO CITY – While the city government lined up pompous activities for its centennial celebration on September 1, a descendant of an Ibaloi clan said it is also a centennial of injustice for her clan and the Ibaloi tribes here.
The Ibalois suffer from the non-recognition of their ancestral land rights despite the landmark decision on native title in favor of their land rights in 1909, explained Ruby Dolores Carino Giron, a fifth-generation descendant of Mateo Cariño, a recognized leader of Kafagway, as Baguio was known then prior to American colonial rule.
Giron said that in a land case brought by her ancestor Mateo Cariño to the United States Supreme Court, the court decided on February 23, 1909 in favor of her ancestor’s (Cariño) right to their ancestral land over the areas now covered by Club John Hay. The US Supreme Court decision pointed out that the land possessed by the natives prior to colonization were not public land but private as they were held as such since time immemorial.
However, the fact that their ancestral land was not returned back to the Cariños and that it is still with the government is a manifestation of that century of injustice, she pointed out in an interview.
The American administration made Baguio, through legislation, a chartered city on September 1, 1909. The city was planned by the Americans for a population of 25,000.
In the charter’s town site reservation, lands of public domain are sold to the highest bidder under the Townsite Sales Application (TSA). However, recognition of the Ibalois ancestral lands was not done.
Giron pointed out that the TSA system should be removed as it had been a source of corruption in the sale of lands.
“There is no more land to sell but the city makes money on it (TSA). The TSA system had breached the carrying capacity of the city, which was planned for a 25,000 population.” she added.
She criticized the new proposal of Congressman Mauricio Domogan to amend the City Charter as it maintains the TSA system.
Giron was among those who lobbied for the passage of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997, particularly ensuring ancestral land recognition in the bicameral committee of Congress.
“Baguio is the origin of the native title (through the Cariño Doctrine). Why should ancestral land recognition exempt the city,” she reiterated as interest groups lobbied for the exclusion of ancestral land recognition in the city.
Since the approval of the IPRA, Giron claimed that the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) has not fully recognized the ancestral lands of the Ibalois in the city. There were Certificate of Ancestral Land Titles (CALTs) granted by NCIP with people who are not entitled to it based on the “Carpetas of Ibalois,” documents where they traced the family tree and ancestral land rights of the applicants, she explained.
Like other agencies created for indigenous peoples in the past, the NCIP perpetuates corruption and historical lies, she added. “What they could have done is to read the Carpetas and start from there,” she pointed out.
Partnership, Sharing Resources
She allayed fears of local officials that their claims and recognition of their ancestral land would deny the city of the resources it needs, like water, as these resources are found in these ancestral land claims.
“What we want is the recognition of our ancestral lands. Where these lands are most needed by public needs, we can have partnership with the city. This partnership would be of mutual benefit for both where the Ibalois shall be compensated – like that in livelihood, education for their children – under the context of correcting the historical injustice perpetuated against the Ibalois.
Nordis learned that vast tracts of Ibalois’ ancestral lands in the city had been expropriated though colonial and post colonial laws without compensation, and had disenfranchised Ibaloi families in most cases.
In the celebration of the city’s centennial, Giron pointed out, the present city leadership seems not to recognize history.
“They should look at the history of the city to reconcile the past and the present. A clear appreciation of history would correct injustices and help plan for the future without perpetuating the same injustices. Not to do so would be amending history and would mean not recognizing us, the Ibalois,” Giron asserted. (Northern Dispatch/Posted by Bulatlat)