By Mario Casayuran
Sen. Richard J. Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, asked President Duterte on Tuesday to overhaul the alleged graft-ridden Land Registration Authority (LRA).
Gordon said this is one of his committee recommendations as his committee is winding down its probe into the P2.8 billion right-of-way anomaly on a four-lane 33-kilometer highway in General Santos city in 2013.
If the LRA is not overhauled, according to Gordon, the people would ‘’no longer rely on the most important pillar of business and property ownership which is the title.’’
Others effects are the creation of doubts on real property ownership where nobody would come to the country to invest as commercial transactions are affected ownership could no longer be sold or passed on as inheritance and it would be difficult to borrow from banks, he added.
Although the registration of land tiles at LRA has been digitized, still Gordon was not convinced by the system as it could be corrupted. ‘’Garbage in, garbage out (GIGO),’’ he added.
In a press briefing after his committee hearing, Gordon told Senate reporters that his committee would seek the tightening of the systems at the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) where it has to make public announcements of its projects to safeguard public coffers.
He said he doubts the integrity of the DPWH right-of-way expenditures as government projects could not still give a tax mapping of real estate properties at General Santos city.
For the 2018 fiscal year, the ROW budget of DPWH was P18 billion.
Gordon said there are 167 ROW folders at GenSan city with a total value of P6 billion.
He said he had told the Department of Justice (NBI) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 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 is enough.
Syndicates collected the ROW payments.
Payments for the ROW claims passed through a chain in the bureaucracy from the LRA, DPWH, local assessor’s office, and assessor’s office,
Gordon said he does not believe former DPWH Secretary 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 thanked Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Senator Emmanuel D. Pacquiao for pressing for an in-depth probe on the matter.
He said Pacquiao did the heavy work by exposing the anomaly that took place in his constituency in a recent privilege speech.
‘’There was conspiracy,’’ he added.
Gordon did not mince his words during his committee hearing when he said he threatened to lock up at the Office of the Senate Sergeant at Arms (OSAA) those who lie before his committee.
‘’I won’t tolerate lying in this committee. Don’t waste our time here. We don’t enjoy it (doing committee hearings),’’ he said.
The committee public hearing resumes before noon today.