By Hannah Torregoza
The Senate has adopted the blue ribbon committee report recommending the filing of charges against several government officials and private individuals over the controversial P255.5-million road right-of-way (RROW) payment scam in General Santos City.
The committee report, prepared by Sen. Richard Gordon’s committee was adopted February 6, Wednesday night; no senator objected to the motion.
The report recommended the filing of graft and plunder charges against officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Land Registration Authority (LRA), the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) ,City Assessor’s Office and the judiciary involved in the RROW scam.
“This is a signal to all in terms of doing their duties to the country and certainly, I hope this report sends a very strong signal to everybody,” Gordon said in his sponsorship speech.
Among those included in the panel’s recommendations were Ser John Pastrana, head of the LRA’s Information and Communications Technology Division, and Leonard Dinopol, the head of the Assessor’s office in General Santos City and 13 other government officials.
The report recommended that they be charged with violations of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act; RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees; Revised Penal Code Article 210 on Direct Bribery; Revised Penal Code Article 210 on Indirect Bribery:
Other individuals named in the report include Wilma Mamburan, Nelson Ti, and Evelyn Paloso. They were also recommended to be charged with violations of the Anti-graft and Corruption Act; Revised Penal Code Article 72, falsification by private individual and use of falsified documents, Revised Penal Code Article 212 corruption of public officials.
“These people were able to cheat the government, if you look at it. These are supposed to be certified true copies, but in reality these are lands that were already owned by the government,”
“That’s what they did: they made it appear that some other people owned it and created fake titles, with fake names, so they were layering all of these,” Gordon pointed out.
“The recommendation supports the fact that the government paid so much for so little…” he said.
It was Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao who filed Senate Resolution No. 561 asking the Senate to probe the alleged syndicate behind the RROW payment scam in General Santos city.
According to Pacquiao, the modus operandi of the syndicate was to claim for just compensation of RROW, which are intended for rightful owners who were affected by national highway construction at General Santos City.
Under the Right-of-Way Act, the government is mandated to provide just compensation for landowners whose properties were or will be used or affected by national infrastructure projects, such as the building of roads.