POSTSCRIPT / June 7, 2022 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Will land grabbing stop under Marcos?

We’ve been receiving reactions to our disclosure last Sunday that a big businessman has built on my one-hectare property in Pililla, Rizal, a big restaurant without my prior permission and the proper permits from local authorities.

The case has stirred fresh discussions about land grabbing and the syndicates engaged in it.

Raking in millions in revenues from the restaurant operating on that prime lakeshore location, the squatter has worked out with the use of spurious papers a mayor’s permit to give his activities a semblance of regularity.

One wonders how the incoming Marcos administration will act against influential persons, some of them abetted by syndicates and corrupt officials, grabbing areas in the public domain and properties already titled to individuals.

A reader, Rene Moral, said in an email: “You’re still lucky to have the title in your name. My title for my lot in Porac was stolen xxx.

“Four petitioners are asking PARAD* to recognize them as my tenants. Their petition was denied. So with their motions for reconsideration. (*The PARAD or the Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator office is the DAR’s judicial body that hears agrarian and related cases.)

“Case was then elevated to the DARAB* in Quezon City. Their petition was likewise denied. The case is now in the Court of Appeals. (*DARAB is the DAR Adjudication Board that hears and decides agrarian disputes.)

“When I requested the provincial assessor’s office to inform me of the property tax I have to pay, the OIC Provincial Assessor called me up to say he could not accommodate my request because the property was no longer in my name!

“The petitioners used a fake ‘amicable settlement’ to cancel the lis pendens annotation on my title (TCT) which paved the way for the issuance by the BIR of a Certificate Authorizing Registration after paying only P23/sqm when the BIR zonal value is P1,650/sqm.

“The Register of Deeds issued a TCT in the name of a person I have never met after forging my signature on the Deed of Sale. Then this first buyer sold it to another buyer.

“I need a good Pampanga-based lawyer to have the fake amicable settlement, etc., invalidated and the title restored in my name.”

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Also reacting to my column that asked “Life is any better after six years of Duterte?”, reader LilyG lamented things familiar to Filipinos who have to deal with a broken system in the hands of officials who should not be there running/ruining our lives:

“Six years is a long time… I am very sorry to hear of your experience with a businessman who squatted on your property. If people can do that to you, what chance have we common tao have? Some of our politicians and businessmen are so makapal ang mukha.

“There are some people who didn’t fare well in the last six years.

“The son of a high school principal in our town was killed in Manila by police for alleged ‘drug dealing’. His mother had earned her doctorate and became a professor in Canada. Her son who was killed was trained in Switzerland in culinary science, hoping to become a chef. Whether he was a drug dealer or not, we don’t know. xxx

“Life goes on, and on. I did not vote for BBM but I wish him all the best, for our country. I hope he will try to prove us all wrong, and make the Marcos name respectable.

“I hope you will finally get justice. For the common tao, ‘isumbong mo kay Tulfo.’ But that’s in the past.”

• Tulfo wants bigger Judiciary budget

Her mentioning that familiar name came just after I read a statement of senator-elect Raffy Tulfo pushing for an improved justice system with at least a P55-billion budget for 2023. He took that position even before the convening of the 19th Congress.

Tulfo said the Judiciary deserves a bigger budget to build more halls of justice, improve internet and digitalization, use video conferencing in court, upgrade compensation of judges and court personnel, and increase the number of judges, court and info-tech personnel.

The Supreme Court and the lower courts have a budget of P39.7 billion for 2022. This does not include allocations for the Court of Appeals, Court of Tax Appeals, Sandiganbayan, and the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.

In the budget proposal in 2021 before its submission to the Congress, the SC was to have P67.28 billion, but this was cut to P44.98 billion. It was later readjusted by the Congress to P45.31 billion.

Tulfo said the DBM should have given the Judiciary the benefit of the doubt: “Slashing the original budget request by P22.3 billion does not only seem disrespectful but amounts to an injustice arising from the denial of proper service to the citizens.”

He vowed to push for an increase of at least P6.25 billion in the Judiciary’s budget so the first-level and second-level courts, and Supreme Court will have P46 billion in 2023. For the appellate courts and the PET, P9 billion should be fair, he added.

Most of the pending cases are in the first-level and second-level courts, which are the municipal trial courts, municipal circuit trial courts, and metropolitan trial courts.

“The Supreme Court reported in 2020 that the RTCs had 635,690 total cases, 215,413 of them disposed of, for a disposition rate of 34 percent,” he said. “In the first-level courts, there were 171,382 pending cases, 208,867 case inflow, and 191,597 decided and archived cases.”

“For capital outlay for the long-term, I will ask the Department of Finance to study the issuance of at least P100 billion in bonds so the Judiciary will have an additional P20 billion per year in five years for systemic infrastructure,” Tulfo said.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 7, 2022)

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