Ibaloi chieftain's descendants assail NCIP land award
- Rainier Allan Ronda () - February 12, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The descendants of a pre-Spanish era Ibaloi chieftain have assailed the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) for awarding 78 hectares of prime Baguio City land estimated to be worth P3.8 billion to a supposedly dubious claimant.

Joaquin “Jack” Kintanar Cariño, a fourth-generation descendant of Ibaloi chieftain Mateo Cariño, said the NCIP should explain its issuance of a certificate of ancestral land title (CALT) to the heirs of one Ikang Paus led by Elias Paus and Dolores Mallare last Nov. 7 despite serious questions on their claim to a big portion of the Baguio Dairy Farm.

Cariño, publisher of the annual Baguio Yearbook and the Baguio Travellers’ Guide, said the NCIP awarded the Baguio Dairy Farm tract of land to the heirs of Ikang Paus, who claimed to be descendants of their ancestor, Mateo Cariño and his wife, Bayosa Ortega.

“If they are going to give justice to the direct descendants of Mateo Cariño and Bayosa Ortega, then they should have awarded the CALT to us Cariños who can show our family tree and our descent from the nine children of Mateo Cariño and Bayosa Ortega,” Cariño said.

“The claim of these heirs of Ikang Paus to be the direct descendants of Bayosa Ortega is highly questionable,” he added.

Cariño said Bayosa Ortega only had one husband, Mateo Cariño, and it was highly improper to impute that she had other children other than the nine children she had with Mateo Cariño.

“There is no basis for the award,” Cariño said, adding that they were ready to file graft, if not plunder charges against NCIP chairman Eugenio Insigne and the other commissioners of the agency.

Asked last Friday to comment on the allegations, Insigne sought to distance himself from the NCIP move, saying he was out of the country when the NCIP commissioners issued the CALT.

However, Insigne defended the agency’s move, saying he saw nothing wrong with the issuance of the CALT.

“I think everything is in order,” Insigne told The STAR.

“As a lawyer, I think the decision (to issue the CALT) is supported by evidence and jurisprudence on the matter,” he said.

The Cariños of Baguio City, by virtue of their being direct descendants of Mateo Cariño, have pending claim to all of Baguio Dairy Farm, which covers an area of more than 90 hectares.

Mateo Cariño is said to be the Ibaloi chieftain recognized by Spanish authorities who managed to reach the highlands of Benguet during their more than 300-year reign in the Philippines.

In exchange for his conversion to Christianity, resulting in his Christian surname of Cariño, the Spanish government gave him Spanish land titles to vast tracts of land covering much of what is now Baguio City.

During the American occupation, Mateo Cariño was said to have incurred the ire of the new colonizers when he reportedly harbored Emilio Aguinaldo, president of the revolutionary government, on his escape to Hong Kong.

The American military government was said to have issued military decrees ordering the confiscation of Mateo Cariño’s lands in favor of the American government.

Mateo Cariño, for his part, fought to overturn the nullification of these military decrees until he died in 1908. He gained a posthumous legal victory though when the US Supreme Court in 1909 issued a landmark ruling penned by revered American jurist and man of letters Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., that recognized “native title” to valid land rights established by testimonies or memories on land that has been held, occupied and utilized in ownership since time immemorial by indigenous populations.

The landmark ruling, now referred to as the “Mateo Cariño doctrine,” has been used even in arguing land ownership cases filed by the Indians in Canada and the United States and by the Maoris in New Zealand, in addition to the Philippines.

Cariño said it was a hundred times painful for the Cariños that while their forefather’s legal victory had resulted in the award of ancestral lands to tribal folk elsewhere in the world, it has not resulted in any such benefit for his descendants.

“It’s now 2010, so our long wait for justice is more than a hundred years old,” Cariño said.

BAGUIO BAGUIO CITY BAGUIO DAIRY FARM BAYOSA ORTEGA CARI IKANG PAUS MATEO MATEO CARI NTILDE
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