Senator Richard J. Gordon has asked the Ombudsman, Department of Justice (DoJ) and the National Bureau of Investigations (NBI) to conduct a lifestyle check on officials and employees of government agencies involved in road right-of-way (RRoW) payment.
The chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee said Sunday some current and former officials and employees of the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Budget and Management, and the Land Registration Authority, among others should be covered by the lifestyle check.
“I am convinced that the road right-of-way payment scam is perpetrated with the connivance of unscrupulous individuals from different agencies that has a role in RRoW payment. That’s why I am calling on the Office of the Ombudsman, the DoJ and the NBI to perform lifestyle checks on some officials, current and former, and some employees of these agencies who have a direct role in the transactions,” the senator said.
The Right-of-Way Act mandates the government to provide just compensation for landowners whose properties were or will be used or affected by national infrastructure projects, such as the building of roads.
The Blue Ribbon has been investigating the RRoW payment scam in General Santos City. The modus operandi of the syndicate was to claim for just compensation of RRoW which are intended for rightful owners who were affected by national highway construction in General Santos City.
Gordon has exposed during the investigation the syndicates’ modus operandi of submitting fake titles which had already cost the government P255.55 million for nine parcels of land alone in General Santos City. He presented a table which showed that the sizes of the parcels of land covered by the titles that the claimants submitted, which the Land Registration Authority certified to be authentic and genuine, were jacked up several times over. The locations of the alleged properties were also in areas other than the locations indicated in the titles
“When you can no longer rely on one of the most important pillars of business and property ownership – the title, the Torrens title, if you cannot rely on that then nobody’s going to come in and invest here. Our commercial transactions would all be affected, people cannot pass on their property by way of sale or by way of inheritance. Mahirap na magpamana o magbenta, mahirap na mangutang sa bangko (It will be hard to pass inheritance or sell, it’s hard to borrow from the bank),” he said.