By Faye Orellana, September 30 2018; Philippine Daily Inquirer


Image Credit to Philippine Daily Inquirer

Senator Richard Gordon called on the Office of the Ombudsman, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the National Bureau of Investigations (NBI) to conduct a lifestyle check on some government officials who might be involved in the road right-of-way (RROW) payment scam.

Gordon, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee that is investigating the P8.7 billion controversy, said on Sunday that some members of some government agencies “could be involved in the conspiracy to defraud the government.”

Gordon refers to 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.

“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,” the senator said in a statement.

“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.

Gordon said the lifestyle check should be done on current and former officials of the said government agencies.

It was revealed during the previous hearings of the Senate blue ribbon committee that syndicates manufacture land titles that were already covered by the highway and then claim right-of-way compensation.

Using only a special power of attorney and deed of assignment, the syndicates were able to make right-of-way claims in the past.

“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 is difficult to pass on inheritance or sell property. It is also difficult to obtain a bank loan),” Gordon said.

At a joint hearing of the Blue Ribbon and Public Works committee on Thursday, Gordon blamed the dysfunctional land registration system (Torrens system) in the country, which he said makes it easy for syndicates to falsify land titles in General Santos City.

The Torrens system is a land registration system wherein the government keeps all the legitimate land titles and records. /ee