PMA wins case over 28-hectare property

PMA wins case over 28-hectare property

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — The Philippine Military Academy (PMA) has won in a land dispute case involving a 28-hectare property located within the military reservation.

In a ruling issued on Jan. 19, the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) Branch 1 affirmed the PMA’s right over the disputed land and declared the claimants guilty of encroachment.

The ruling came two years after the PMA filed a case against the respondents, who claimed to be the heirs of a certain Gusec Dacdacan.

The court cited a survey report of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) confirming the contested land is part of the military reservation, which was established through Proclamation 2405.

Although the claimants possessed a survey plan approved by the DENR in 1961, the court ruled that it was not sufficient to prove their ownership over the land.

The court said there were no records showing the legality of the claimants’ entry into the disputed property.

It said the claimants have no right over the land due to a pending status of their petition for a Certificate of Ancestral Land Title (CALT) with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

“The NCIP has no policy directions yet on the processing of CALTs in the city of Baguio,” the court said.

It also cited a Supreme Court ruling in 2019, stating that the NCIP does not have any legal power to reclassify lands that were previously included as part of the Baguio Townsite Reservation, as provided under Section 78 of Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997.

The respondents admitted that they along with other claimants have repeatedly entered the property and introduced some improvements despite being told by the PMA that the area is within the military reservation.

The court said such acts violate Presidential Decree 1227, which penalizes unlawful entry into any military base in the country.

The respondents were sentenced to 10 days in prison and ordered to pay a fine of P100 each.

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