The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the Municipality of Sugpon in Ilocos Sur after it has dismissed for lack of merit the petition of the Municipality of Bakun in Benguet over the disputed 1,117.20 hectares of land located within their boundaries.
The decision — penned by Justice Mario Lopez — said that the Court’s Third Division denied the Petition for Review on Certiorari of the Municipality of Bakun that assailed the decision dated 1 February, 2018 and the Resolution dated 6 July 2018 of the Court of Appeals, which in turn affirmed in toto the Resolutions dated 28 April 2015 and 27 July 2015 of the Regional Trial Court of Tagudin, Ilocos Sur, Branch 25.
The RTC set aside Joint Resolution 1, Series of 2014, dated 12 May 2014 of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Ilocos Sur and Benguet (Sangguniang Panlalawigan) and adjudicated the disputed 1,117.20 hectares of land to the Municipality of Sugpon.
The Court gave weight to the findings of the RTC and the CA which are supported by the evidence on record as it noted that Sugpon presented the Administrative Map of Benguet showing that the disputed area was beyond the territorial area of Benguet and was, in fact, inside the territorial jurisdiction of Sugpon.
This was corroborated by other documentary evidence, such as Land Classification Map Nos. 3441 and 1298, the Topographic and Administrative Map of Ilocos Sur, and a certification from the officer-incharge of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which shows that the disputed areas are within the territory of Sugpon.
A certification was also issued by the Department of Agrarian Reform stating that the disputed areas are located in Sugpon. Bakun did not present evidence to refute this certification.
Also, Sugpon submitted tax declarations showing that the land forms part of its territory, supported by a certification and a Master List of Tax Declaration from the Municipal Assessor of Sugpon.
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