RRoW scammers’ modus: ghost lands

Sen. Richard Gordon

The actual locations of nine parcels of land used in the road right of way (RRoW) scam in General Santos City by a syndicate which included prominent officials and associates of former President Benigno Aquino were found different from the area indicated in titles submitted to defraud the government of P255.55 million.

The committee, chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon, is set to resume today its inquiry into the scam.

Documents obtained by the Daily Tribune showed the lots were actually located in Barangay Apopong, General Santos City contrary to documents submitted and supposedly certified by the Land Registration Authority (LRA) to be in Barangay Lagao also in General Santos City.

The use of ghost lands was resorted to aside from the falsifying of documents and padding the size of lots used in the fraud, the documents showed.

The parcels of land were covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) numbers 112432 comprised of 90 square meters, 112431 (136 sqm), 112430 (137 sqm), 112437 (90 sqm)—registered under the name of Richmond Land Innovations Inc., and TCT Nos. 122563, 122568, 122566, 122564, 122565 –registered under the name of Feliza Lintang all measuring 300 square meters.

These lots were all situated in Barangay Apopong, General Santos City as indicated in the records of the local Register of Deeds.

The syndicate behind the P8.7-billion scam apparently copied the numbers of the TCT but presented other names as owners, provided different locations and bloated the sizes of the actual lots.

Among former officials charged in the irregularity were Aquino’s Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson and Budget Secretary Florencio Butch Abad.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, meanwhile, is after businessman Nelson Ti, who was found an associate of Eldon Cruz, husband of Aquino’s oldest sister Ballsy Aquino-Cruz. Ti was pinpointed as the financier of the RRoW scammers.

Copied title numbers

In documents submitted for verification by the National Bureau of Investigation-Central Mindanao Regional Office (NBI-CEMRO) in Region 12, which were allegedly certified by the LRA, the lots were described as being located along the national highway in Barangay Lagao, General Santos City.

Submitted as registered owners were Ramon I. Ballesterso (TCT-112432), Nenita S. Austria (TCT-112431), Ricardo B. Canada (TCT-112430) – all with identical 25,713 sqm; Julieta S. Fernandez (TCT-112437) with 24,713 sqm; John B. Bacudo (TCT-122563) without actual size; Mary Ann A. Joyce (TCT-122568); Maria Faye Villamarin (TCT-122566-122564-122565), with identical 23,238 sqm.

It was observed that the “title numbers of legitimate landowners have been copied” to make it appear as not being faked.

Huge lots in fake titles

“Fake titles usually have a land area of more than two hectares to be able to have an outrageously bigger claim from the government,” it added.

The committee, chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon, is set to resume today its inquiry into the scam.

The modus operandi of the syndicate was to claim for just compensation of RRoW intended for rightful owners who were affected by national highway constructions at General Santos City.

Gordon had earlier exposed the syndicate’s manner of submitting fake titles by presenting a table showing the sizes of the parcels of land covered by the titles and the jacked up prices.