IP lawyers, groups: No to a land use policy with Regalian Doctrine
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IP lawyers, groups: No to a land use policy with Regalian Doctrine

Baguio : Philippines | May 25, 2011 at 4:06 AM PDT
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BAGUIO CITY -- A practicing lawyer here said she personally opposes any proposed National Land Use Act that would apply the Regalian Doctrine.

Atty. Cheryl Daytec, also a law professor in a major university in north Luzon, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Cordillera Alternative Law Center Dinteg, was among reactors to a seminar-workshop on the proposed National Land Use Act now pending in the House of Representatives.

Daytec, a Kankanaey from Mountain Province appeared furious over the attempt to harmonize existing laws on land use and ownership, now under deliberations in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. She was among three Igorot lawyers who led a group from the academe, local community organizations, and non-government organizations in the discussions at the University of the Philippines Baguio on May 24.

Daytec's critique on the proposal centered on the conflicting land concepts that the proposals did not even tackle. She said the indigenous peoples view land as the base of their economic, social and cultural development. The mainstream concept see it as a natural resource to be passed on to the future generations and as a private property that may be owned, used or sold. The neo-liberals view the land as fungible with cash that those who own the land are those who have the money.

She said there should be a separate measure for respecting the indigenous peoples' rights to their land and delineating the indigenous people's territories. "We cannot put ancestral lands and other land uses in one law," Daytec said iterating that the consolidated bills for a National Land Use and Management Act do not even consider the indigenous peoples' traditional and customary practices pertaining to land use and resource utilization and management.

"Mas magaling tayo sa NEDA, sa pagtukoy ng mga lupang pwedeng bahayan, tubigan, pastulan at kung anu-ano pang gamit. Meron tayong sariling konsepto ng paggamit sa lupa na mas maunlad at mas naaayon sa pangangailangan ng mga tao," (We are better off than NEDA in identifying the sites for housing, water source, pasture and many other uses. We have our own concept of land use that is far more advanced that addresses the people's needs) Daytec told the participants to the seminar-workshop that looked into the implications of the NLUA proposal to indigenous peoples.

Daytec categorically said that the NLUA proposals tend to favor business interests. She said, the business sector is better represented in the proposed Land Use Policy Council (LUPC) while those whose interests are suppoed to be protected have lesser representation. There would be two representatives each of the basic sectors of urban poor, peasants, fisherfolk and indigenous peoples, half of which should be women, but Daytec said, there would also be representations from the business sector like the real estate developers.

In the proposals, LUPC representatives from the basic sectors of urban poor, peasants, fisherfolk and indigenous peoples would be appointed by the president based on recommendations by the National Anti-Poverty Commission or NAPC.

With the heads of different government agencies concepts that the proposals did not even tackle. She said the indigenous peoples view land as the base of their economic, social and cultural development. The mainstream concept see it as a natural resource to be passed on to the future generations and as a private property that may be owned, used or sold. The neo-liberals view the land as fungible with cash that those who own the land are those who have the money. She said there should be a separate measure for respecting the indigenous peoples' rights to their land and delineating the indigenous people's territories.

"We cannot put ancestral lands and other land uses in one law," Daytec said iterating that the consolidated bills for a National Land Use and Management Act do not even consider the indigenous peoples' traditional and customary practices pertaining to land use and resource utilization and management. "Mas magaling tayo sa NEDA, sa pagtukoy ng mga lupang pwedeng bahayan, tubigan, pastulan at kung anu-ano pang gamit. Meron tayong sariling konsepto ng paggamit sa lupa na mas maunlad at mas naaayon sa pangangailangan ng mga tao," (We are better off than NEDA in identifying the sites for housing, water source, pasture and many other uses. We have our own concept of land use that is far more advanced that addresses the people's needs) Daytec told the participants to the seminar-workshop that looked into the implications of the NLUA proposal to indigenous peoples.

Daytec categorically said that the NLUA proposals tend to favor business interest. She said, the business sector is better represented in the proposed Land Use Policy Council (LUPC) while those whose interests are supposed to be protected have lesser representation. There would be two representatives each of the basic sectors of urban poor, peasants, fisherfolk and indigenous peoples, half of which should be women, but Daytec said, there would also be representations from the business sector like the real estate developers.

In the proposals, LUPC representatives from the basic sectors of urban poor, peasants, fisherfolk and indigenous peoples would be appointed by the president based on recommendations by the National Anti-Poverty Commission or NAPC. With the heads of different government agencies National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Department of Agriculture DA as vice-chairs and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Communications and Transprtation (DOTC), HUDCC, Climate Change Commission and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) as members of the Board, Daytec suspects that the measure would only broker more lands within the ancestral domain, where the remaining rich resources are left from mining and other development projects.

Several versions of the 18-year old measure have been circulating even before the house committee deliberated on the bills, which the major proponents attempted to consolidate. Lawyer Jose M. Molintas, an Ibaloy and former Baguio City councilor, was amazed that it is only now that people were talking about a national land use measure, saying it is too late to realize the move at consolidating and implementing the 1991 Local Government Code that mandated the formulation of land use plans in the local government level.

Like Daytec Molintas said the bills find their limitations in the Regalian Doctrine because it is the constitutional basis of land ownership in the country. Regalian Doctrine implies that all lands of the public domain belong to the State. All lands not otherwise clearly appearing to be privately-owned are presumed to belong to the State.

Atty. Leilene Carrantes-Gallardo of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) feared that the right to self-determination might get lost in the land use proposals. She said the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP) was not even considered as a unit of planning. "If the local government unit is against the issuance of a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim, it might throw the ADSDPP out of the window," Gallardo stressed.

Specifically, Gallardo is afraid the provision on reversion of mineral lands to the public domain might be detrimental to indigenous peoples if the area is not titled through the CADC/CALT system as mandated by IPRA. Several versions of the 18-year old measure have been circulating even before the house committee deliberated on the bills, which the major proponents attempted to consolidate.

Lawyer Jose M. Molintas, an Ibaloy and former Baguio City councilor, was amazed that it is only now that people were talking about a national land use measure, saying it is too late to realize the move at consolidating and implementing the 1991 Local Government Code that mandated the formulation of land use plans in the local government level.

Like Daytec Molintas said the bills find their limitations in the Regalian Doctrine because it is the constitutional basis of land ownership in the country. Regalian Doctrine implies that all lands of the public domain belong to the State. All lands not otherwise clearly appearing to be privately-owned are presumed to belong to the State.

Atty. Leilene Carrantes-Gallardo of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) feared that the right to self-determination might get lost in the land use proposals. She said the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP) was not even considered as a unit of planning. "If the local government unit is against the issuance of a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim, it might throw the ADSDPP out of the window," Gallardo stressed.

Specifically, Gallardo is afraid the provision on reversion of mineral lands to the public domain might be detrimental to indigenous peples if the area is not titled through the CADC/CALT system as mandated by IPRA.

The three lawyers, nonetheless agreed that it should not only be lawyers who should raise their voices inside and outside the Philippine Congress as they encouraged grass-root participation in crafting the law.

Beauty titlist-turned political activist Ms. Maita Gomez, who now head Bantay Kita, intearacted with the participants with her insights on mining and transparency. She enlightened the discussion with her first-hand encounters with mining operations in Mindanao, the Central Philippines and north Luzon.

Gomez said she is wary of the selection of basic sector representatives with stories of IP representative selection in some localities where IPs not favored by local executives losing the chance to represent their constituents in governing councils.

Katinnulong Daguiti Umili ti Amianan (RDC-KADUAMI); Aspulan, Akit, were among the participating organizations.

Tebtebba Foundation, Bantay Kita and UP Baguio spearheaded the holding of the discussions, marked a a first of its kind on the national land use measure. # Lyn V. Ramo

lynspace is based in Baguio, Cordillera, Philippines, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
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