Dec 2, 2020 @ 8:21

SC settles Ifugao boundary dispute: Aguinaldo loses claim to Mayoyao sitios

The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed that nine disputed sitios on the east of the Alimit River in Ifugao province belong to the municipality of Mayoyao, denying the claim of the neighboring Aguinaldo.

In a recent 4-page minute resolution, the SC denied the petition of Aguinaldo Mayor Gaspar Chilagan, Jr. questioning the Court of Appeals’ (CA) May 24, 2019 decision, which in turn affirmed the January 5, 2016 ruling of the Alfonso Lista Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 15 in favor of Mayoyao.

Aguinaldo argued that the Alimit River formed the natural boundary between it and Mayoyao, which lies to the west. Thus, it claimed jurisdiction over the sitios on the east bank of the river.

But, the SC held that Batas Pambansa (BP) Bilang 86 specifically listed only the barangays of Bunhian, Damag, Galonogon, Itab, Jacmal, Taang, Talete and Ubao as the areas that would be carved from the territory of Mayoyao to form part of Aguinaldo.

The law also provided only for the inclusion of sitios Pusnaan and Mapacopaco, which used to belong to the municipality of Potia (now Alfonso Lista), as part of Aguinaldo.

The SC disagreed with Aguinaldo’s contention that the list was not exclusive.

“The fact that Section 1 did not employ the restrictive word ‘only’ does not negate the exclusivity of the list of barangays comprising Aguinaldo,” read the minute resolution penned by Deputy Division Clerk of Court Teresita Aquino Tuazon.

As found by the Alfonso Lista RTC, the disputed sitios of Abagong, Po-oc, Magatawa, Badang, Torpoan, and Bilog already formed part of Barangay Nattum, and the sitios of Lubo, Bawang, and Imbanoy belonged to Barangay Banao.

Barangay Nattum and Barangay Banao were not among the barangays of Mayoyao which were given to Aguinaldo under BP 86, the SC noted. Neither were the sitios explicitly carved out of the said barangays.

“Had it been the intent of the legislature to include them in Aguinaldo, there should have been an express declaration to that effect just as the legislature categorically mentioned sitios Pusnaan and Mapacopaco,” the SC pointed out.

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