Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya—At least 200 farmers have signed a petition asking the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Region 2 to cancel two original certificates of title acquired by a member of the provincial board and his family through a free patent application.
In a letter addressed to DENR Regional Executive Director Gwendolyn Bambalan, the petitioners referred to OCT No. P-31809 and OCT No. P31810 which were issued through a free patent application by Nueva Vizcaya South District Board Member Edgardo Balgos Jr. and his family on October 26, 2010.
Both parcels of land are located in Barangay Busilac in this town with a total land area of 20 hectares.
The petitioners have accused the Balgos family of acquiring the land dubious means, claiming that several signatures in their application were forged including a barangay certification
They claim that the application was not valid because the publication was not posted on the bulletin board of the Busilac Barangay Hall when it was released by the community ENR office of Bayombong town.
They also presented a sworn statement showing that Busilac Barangay Councilor Manuel Lopez, then barangay captain from 2007 to 2010, denying a certification he issued on February 21, 2008 pertaining to the free patent application of the Balgoses and claiming the certification with Lopez’s signature was a forged document.
Another affidavit was also presented by the petitioners showing that Bernabe Abad of Purok 6 in Barangay Busilac supports the claim of Lopez. As farm caretaker of the Balgos farm, Abad claimed that in 2008 he accompanied Magellan Ortiz, brother-in-law of Balgos, to ask Lopez to sign a certification in favor of the Balgoses, but Lopez refused.
The petitioners also presented a barangay certification dated November 13, 2020 signed by a certain barangay chairman Alfredo Liban who also executed an affidavit denying the certification and that he was never appointed nor elected as barangay chairman.
The same petition was sent to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of Nueva Vizcaya for inquiry.
During the SP inquiry, Balgos has denied having fraudulently acquired through the free patent application the subject land area titled to him and his family.
He explained that his parents had a pasture lease agreement of 152 hectares which eventually expired and that the family applied for a tree farm lease agreement for 134 hectares over the same area that is also due to expire in December this year.
“Through the years, the national government declared some part of the original 152 hectares as alienable and disposable,” Balgos said.
He said they have let the tree farm lease agreement area be occupied by other people on the condition that they don’t encroach on the 20 hectares titled part which their family acquired through the free patent application.
Balgos said his family legally applied and were not disqualified and submitted all the requirements for their free patent application on the 20-hectare area that was declared alienable and disposable by the national government.
“In fact, the DENR and the Bureau of Lands had done ocular inspection in the area when we were applying for those lands in our possession,” he said asking the petitioners “why is it only now that you are complaining.”