House approves bill extending for 20 years IPs claim to ancestral land titles

MANILA-- The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a measure which seeks to extend for another 20 years the period for indigenous cultural communities (ICCs) and indigenous peoples (IPs) to secure ancestral land titles.

In a 223-0 vote, the lower chamber unanimously approved House Bill 5350 which extends for another 20 years the period for ICCs or IPs to secure Certificate of Title to their ancestral lands.

The current law, Republic Act 8371, provides that the ICCs or IPs only have until October 29, 2017 to secure their claim to own their ancestral lands.

Under Section 12 of RA 8371, ICCs or IPs have the option to secure a certificate of title if they have been in continuous possession or occupation of their ancestral lands since time immemorial or for a period of not less than 30 years preceding the approval of the Act, and if their claim remains uncontested by members of the same ICCs/IPs.

Under the bill, the term ancestral land or domain is defined as territories covering not only the physical environment but also the total environment including the spiritual and cultural bonds to the area which the ICCs/IPs possess, occupy and use, and to which they have claims of ownership.

One of the principal authors of the bill, the late Mountain Province Rep. Maximo Dalog, pointed out that the certain provision of the law was never implemented and the IPs did not benefit from it, noting that the concerned government agencies were unable to come up with specific implementing rules and regulations (IRR).

It is imperative that the efficacy and efficiency of Section 12 of RA 8371 be extended for another 20 years upon the expiration of the first period if we are to give meaning to the intents and purposes of the said law, said Dalog.

Source: Philippines News Agency