Lobregat raises Cabatangan issue in ARMM budget hearing PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 27 September 2014 13:56

Congressman Celso L. Lobregat brought up the issue of Cabatangan properties in the plenary deliberation of the proposed budget of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) held on September 22, 2014.

The titles of more than 90 hectares of Cabatangan properties in Zamboanga City have been transferred in the name of the ARMM, several are registered in the name of the Republic of the Philippines but are being claimed by the ARMM.

Lobregat stated that the Zamboanga City government has long been wanting to purchase the said properties. He also cited the legal basis for the said transaction.

RA 9054 provides under Article XVIII – Transitory Provisions – Section 1: Disposition of Certain Real Properties of the Autonomous Region. “The land and permanent buildings or structures owned, controlled, administered, or in possession of the Regional Government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, including those formerly owned, held, administered, or controlled by the defunct autonomous governments in Region IX and XII located in provinces and cities which do not vote favorably for the inclusion of their respective areas in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao as provided by this Organic Act shall be purchased by the central government or national government at a price to be determined by the Oversight Committee as provided for in Section 3 of this Article, within three (3) months form the holding of the said plebiscite.”

The provision further states that: “The national government or central government shall within three (3) months from its acquisition of said land and permanent buildings or structures sell, transfer, and convey the said properties in favor of the local government unit having territorial jurisdiction thereover and willing to purchase the said land and buildings or structures, or portions thereof, at the price agreed upon by the central government or national government with the local government concerned.”

RA 9054 was passed in 2001 and until this year, this has not been implemented.

Congresswoman Bai Sandra Sinsuat A. Sema, sponsor of the ARMM budget, responded that “the ARMM leadership has not received any offer from the government for the sale of Cabatangan properties.”

Lobregat stated that “there was an offer to buy the said properties and there was even an agreement. The only thing that was missing then was the cedula of the ARMM Governor, thus, the transaction did not push through.” Lobregat further asked the ARMM government if they are willing to negotiate with the national government so that the national government can purchase the said properties.

Sema said that the ARMM has no record of the agreement and asked if they could be provided with a copy. Lobregat argued that the law (RA 9054) is mandatory. He mentioned that during the term of his mother, the late Maria Clara Lobregat, the Oversight Committee was already convened.

Lobregat also expressed the urgency of the matter because in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (HB 4994) in Article XVI – Bangsamoro Transition Authority Section 9 – Transfer of Powers and Properties and Disposition of Personnel – “All powers, functions, assets, capital, receivables, equipment and facilities of the ARMM Regional Government at the time of the ratification of this Basic Law shall be transferred to the Bangsamoro Government.” With this provision, Zamboanga City will lose its right to purchase the Cabatangan properties.

Sema said that this issue will be brought up to the Office of the President. Lobregat also asked for the list of all properties, receivables, assets and liabilities of the ARMM as the same will be needed in the deliberation of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. He also asked for the national taxes collected in the ARMM for the past five (5) years. Sema said that the ARMM government will provide the needed documents.

It can be recalled that more than 100 innocent victims were taken hostage and paraded in front of everybody in the 2001 Cabatangan siege. — Jubels Santos