The task force created by the Kalinga provincial government to look into the land dispute in Rizal which led to the deaths of nine people has now issued its findings. Here’s a story by Estanislao Albano Jr. first published at the Manila Bulletin. The Philippine Information Agency has a similar report here.
Task force bares its findings on bloody Kalinga demolition
Says mayor’s order to demolish houses legally defective
By ESTANISLAO ALBANO JR.
TABUK CITY, Kalinga — An order of then Mayor Marcelo dela Cruz to demolish houses and huts of alleged squatters in Malapiat, San Pascual, Rizal last June 25 was based on a defective ordinance, a task force said.
Some of the settlers in the disputed land obtained their lots in good faith, but there was a group, led by a Butbut tribesman, that entered the land through the use of force.
These are two of the key points in the findings contained in the report of the Task Force Malapiat (TFM), the body tasked by the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) to get to the bottom of the demolition which led to the killing of nine persons and the wounding of 10 others.
Kalinga Media Association president Regino Wacas, who represented the trimedia in the TFM, said Ordinance No. 2005-05 prohibiting land squatting in Rizal does not provide for demolition as a course of action against offenders.
Wacas said that Section 6 of the ordinance only provides for a fine of P5,000 or imprisonment for one month or both at the discretion of the court as penalties for violators. Wacas said that in its Resolution No. 2005-03, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) declared the ordinance operative on condition that this should be amended to the effect that it provides for summary demolition of illegal structures after due process but the Rizal municipal government failed to comply with the directive.
Consequently, the TFM urged the SP not to approve municipal ordinances unless the corrections it has ordered is made. Local chief executives should not issue demolition orders without following due process, and policemen should observe rules of procedures in providing assistance in demolition, it said.
Regarding the objective to determine the rightful owners of the disputed land, the TFM found the following: The existence of a memorandum of agreement dated 1988 between some members of the Butbut tribe with Jeremias Cariaga, Sr., Vicente Felipe and Catalina Lapada allowing the occupation by the Butbut tribe of certain parcels of land in Malapiat; some members of the Mabaca and Naneng tribes bought their lots in good faith from either Vicente Felipe and Rufino Sapote; some members of the Butbut tribe obtained their lands from Vicente Felipe through a waiver, except the group of Emiliano Macad who forcibly occupied portions of agricultural land awarded to Buenaventura Sarga and his assignees.
In view of the findings, the TFM recommended the reactivation and expansion of the Susana Realty Inc. Task Force (SRITF) headed by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). This had been created to effect the execution of court decision on Civil Cases No. 29 and 244.
The TFM recommended that the expanded SRITF should include an arbitration body which would resolve all conflicts that may arise over the delineation of the remaining awarded areas.
The TFM also requested the SP to pass a resolution urging President Arroyo to direct the three agencies to speed up the process of dileneation of the disputed land and release the funds needed for the purpose.
The TFM recommends the prosecution of the plaintiffs-intervenors in the two civil cases, as well as speculators and other claimants of the area who have been selling land that do not belong to them. Regarding the finding that the settlers procured firearms in their desire to protect their property rights, the TFM recommended that the negotiation component of the task force to conduct dialogue with the settlers to allow the inspection of their houses for firearms.