Ibaloi clan joins group to fight for land ownership in Baguio
Artemio Dumlao (The Philippine Star) - February 26, 2014 - 6:39pm

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – A native Ibaloi clan in Baguio has joined the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA) in their ancestral land dispute with private realty developer Sta Lucia Realty and Development Inc. along Kilometer 3, Asin Road here.

Belying earlier allegations that the CPLA, a militia group that had since severed ties with the New Peoples Army in 1986, has “occupied” the 54-hectare ancestral land being disputed by the native Ibaloi clan “Tunged”, Rosita Liwan speaking in their behalf said it was even the CPLA headed by Melchor Balance alias “Ka Kawar” that brokered dialogues with the huge realty firm to agree on a joint relocation survey of the disputed land.

The CPLA had  been “maligned” publicly for its alleged “land-grabbing” activities elsewhere in Baguio City and Benguet province.

But Balance, chairman of the group, instead blamed “pseudo-CPLA” groups like those that had since agreed with a “closure agreement” with government that are still “using the name of the group for their personal interests.”

Liwan said it was their clan’s decision to close ranks with Balance’s group in their bid to strengten their claim of the disputed 54-hectare land that had been appropriated  by the realty developer as part of the subdivision development. 

“We have proofs that it is the clan’s property  as shown by tax declarations since 1959,”  she said, adding they are holding  boundary proofs with other Ibaloi land claimants which had since sold theirs to Sta Lucia.

There are about 10 Ibaloi families under the Tunged clan fighting it out with Sta Lucia, which agreed  that a “status quo” on the property pending a determination of the metes and bounds of each claim.

The CPLA  involved with land-grabbing issues in Baguio maybe linked, Tingguian (Abra) “Ka Kawar” said, to those still claiming they are CPLA’s but in fact have turned their backs on the  “uniform, identity and aspiration” for Cordillera regional autonomy.

“Haan dan a CPLA a ta nag closure agreement dan garud (They are no more CPLA because they already entered a closure agreement with the government)."

Two years ago, the CPLA group led by Arsenio Humiding entered into a closure agreement with the government via the Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process (OPAPP).  They had since transformed as a socio-economic group, its leaders had claimed.

The present CPLA now, Balance said, is alive and still aspiring for  regional autonomy and had since embarked on a citizen’s initiative-fueled “autonomy caravan” consulting Cordillerans in the grassroots if they still yearn for self-government.

The response in the provinces where they went so far is tremendous, said CPLA consultant Benedict Ballug, convenor of the “Autonomy Movement in the Administrative Cordillera” (AMIN-TACO), meaning, “all of us”.

The same autonomy movement dreams to craft a “tribal version” of the third Organict Act that will establish the Cordillera Autonomous Region by the end of this year.   “This time around, with its beginnings in the grassroots unlike in the past, Cordillerans will say yes to it,” Ballug said.

ADMINISTRATIVE CORDILLERA ARSENIO HUMIDING ASIN ROAD AUTONOMY MOVEMENT BAGUIO CITY AND BENGUET CPLA IBALOI KA KAWAR STA LUCIA
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