Blue Ribbon committee chairman Senator Richard J. Gordon on Tuesday called on President Rodrigo Duterte to overhaul the alleged graft-ridden Land Registration Authority as he urged the Justice department to probe the P2-billion land title scam.
During Tuesday’s hearing on the fake road right-of-way claims in General Santos City, Gordon said he would personally write a letter to Duterte and inform him about the anomaly in the LRA and overhaul it.
The LRA is an attached agency of the DoJ under Secretary Meynardo Guevarra.
Gordon said there was no point if the LRA people would “no longer rely on the most important pillars of business and property ownership which is the title.’’
He said the other effects of this anomaly would be the creation of doubts on real property ownership where nobody would come to the country to invest as commercial transactions were affected, ownership could no longer be sold or passed on as inheritance and it would be difficult to borrow from banks, he added.
While the registration of land titles at LRA has been digitized, Gordon admitted he was not convinced by the system as it could be corrupted.
The modus of the syndicates was to manufacture titles that were already covered by the highway and then claim for just compensation.
Using only a special power of attorney and deed of assignment, the syndicates were able to make a claim.
In a news conference after the hearing, Gordon said his committee would seek the tightening of the systems at the Department of Public Works and Highways where it has to make public announcements of its projects to safeguard public coffers.
He aired suspicions on the integrity of the DPWH right-of-way expenditures as government projects could not still give a tax mapping of real estate properties in General Santos City.
For the 2018 fiscal year, the ROW budget of DPWH is P18 billion. There are 167 ROW folders at GenSan City with a total value of P6 billion.
The senator also said he told the justice department and the National Bureau of Investigation to begin filing criminal charges against those involved in the payment of more than P2 billion to ROW claimants as the evidence so far unearthed was enough.
Gordon said he did not believe former DPWH secretary Rogelio Singson was involved as he undertook extra diligence in having the land titles verified.
“But the guardians in government did not do their jobs,” he added.
He commended Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Sen. Manny Pacquiao for pressing for an in-depth probe on the matter.
He said Pacquiao did the heavy work by exposing the anomaly in GenSan City.