Graver land disputes to arise from Binondo fire PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 30 May 2018 11:52

KAKAMPI MO ANG BATAS

BY Atty. BATAS MAURICIO

LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away…” (Proverbs 37:1-2, the Holy Bible).

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GRAVER LAND DISPUTES TO ARISE FROM BINONDO FIRE: In a matter of hours after a fire of undetermined origin razed several buildings in the heart of Binondo, Manila, there appeared a highly noticeable trending of news reports about the calamity which tried to draw attention solely to the damage sustained by one of the buildings that went up in smoke, the National Archives. I suspected that this trending of the news was an attempt to manipulate the public’s perception about the fire.

Yes, it maybe true that significant mementoes of our country’s history which were necessarily stored in the Archives got destroyed because of the fire but, the truth is that, what should really be bothering the Duterte government in this fire right now are the documents in the files of the Land Management Bureau which appeared to have also perished, when the fire broke out in the very offices of the Bureau in the wee hours of the morning of Monday, May 28, 2018.

This is so because, at this point, the records of all lands in the Philippines—those which have been allowed to be owned by private parties, and those which remain incapable of being titled in the names of any private person—are in the custody of the Lands Management Bureau. Now that all of these records appear to have been burned, we should expect graver land disputes in the whole country in the days to come, in a manner that would be worse than the disputes we are having now.

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BINONDO FIRE MUST BE THOROUGHLY PROBED: That being the case, I am asking President Duterte to immediately direct Justice Secretary Meynardo Guevarra to undertake a no-nonsense investigation into the fire, employing the expertise and the proven investigative capability of the National Bureau of Investigation.

The fire raises serious and grave doubts about its origin, especially because it struck at a point where the Duterte government is moving towards the confiscation of lands which, although incapable of being registered in favor of private owners under existing laws, have nevertheless been appropriated and are now being used for business and other personal purposes by the rich and the powerful, including politicians of different colors and persuasion.

Some well-known examples of these lands are those in Boracay, Coron, Palawan, Fortune and Verde Islands, and some 100 or so more places.

These lands are still “unclassified public forests” according to the Supreme Court and, consequently, cannot be appropriated or owned and used by any private person. Yet, they are now the source of hundreds of millions of illicit revenue for the unscrupulous and the corrupt, for quite a long time now.

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CORRUPT LANDOWNERS TO BENEFIT FROM THE BINONDO FIRE: Of course, now that the records of the Lands Management Bureau have been destroyed by Monday’s fire, greater economic benefits are to be enjoyed by the people who possessed, and still are in possession of, the lands still classified as “unclassified public forest.” It would be very difficult throwing them out from these lands now, simply because the proof that they are still owned by the government have been destroyed.

We should not forget that with the kind of system that our country employs today to put in order lost or destroyed government documents, decades are sure to pass before such documents are recovered or restored, if ever. It is not far-fetched that the documents may not even be restored anymore, or that the government in the long run will simply run out of interest to pursue such document restoration.

This endeavor of restoring the burned documents would now partake of a “mission impossible” for the government, and I am betting that the rich and the powerful who are now reaping hundreds of millions of pesos in underserved revenue from the lands in question would even want to give them up at this point. Yes, the country and the people are the only ones who will suffer for this. As it is often said hereabouts, “only in the Philippines”.

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FOR QUESTIONS, REACTIONS: If anyone would like to ask me any question about what the burning issues of the  day mean, or what we have discussed here, or to consult on any problem, whatever it maybe, please call 0917 984 24 68, or email me at batasmauricio@yahoo.com, or post your concerns at www.facebook.com/attybatas.  Promise, I will answer right away. Thank God in the Name of Jesus, Amen!