Noy pal liable in scam

Hot trail Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon panel, inches closer to the ring leaders of the multibillion-peso road right of way scam as more officials of the previous administration are identified as being linked to the racket. At the hearing are former Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson (inset, second from left) and other resource persons. AL PADILLA

The plot in the road right of way (RRoW) scandal thickens as a key appointee of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino who was the former head of the Land Registration Authority (LRA) could be held liable for allegedly “sitting” on complaints raised over falsified land titles used by the syndicate involved in the P8.7 billion in General Santos City.

Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Richard Gordon said former LRA Administrator Eulalio Diaz did not act even after ex-Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson expressed doubts on compensation claims regarding the RRoW project in General Santos City. Diaz, a lawyer, is Aquino’s classmate at the Ateneo de Manila University.

Aquino was criticized for favoring so-called KKK (Kabarkada, Kabarilan, Kaklase or friends, shooting range buddies and classmates) in appointing government officials.

“Yeah, he is,” replied Gordon when asked by the Daily Tribune if Diaz was liable, saying “for non-feasance.”

Gordon said based on his questioning, it was established that Diaz was made aware by Singson, who doubted the claims regarding the RRoW in General Santos City, of the irregularity but did nothing.

“You already knew, why did you not complain…why did you not act on the fake titles?” Gordon asked Diaz.

Gordon stressed that Diaz, as LRA administrator, had the access to open the vaults where the titles were deposited.

“He could have done it (open and check the real titles) and it could have been avoided,” Gordon said.

“Criminal acts are committed either by fault or negligence, omission to do certain things,” he added.

Not his job
In a separate interview, Diaz told the Daily Tribune that he “farmed out” the letter of Singson asking for certification of the documents submitted by the claimants down to the LRA’s Micrographics and Computer Division, headed by Ser John Pastrana.

Diaz stressed it was not his job to check and issue certification.

Pastrana, who was tagged by government witness Roberto Catapang Jr. as part of the syndicate, allegedly went on to certify the documents doubted by Singson as “existing and intact” in the vault of LRA.

It was also clear during the hearing that there was no actual survey of the subject lots in General Santos City — as personnel of concerned government agencies only relied on documents presented to them.

“None of you bothered to check that these are fake titles…you did not really care,” lamented Gordon.

46 charged

During the hearing, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Agent Mamerto Tello said the agency had filed cases against 46 individuals in connection with the nine parcels of land found to have falsified titles used in defrauding the government of P255.55 million in General Santos City.

Tello said among those charged were Wilma Mamburao, Chino Mamburao, William Uy and Nelson Ti, tagged by Catapang as the financier of the group.

Ti is said to be a close friend of Eldon Cruz, husband of Aquino’s eldest sister Ballsy Aquino-Cruz.

Gordon said he would ask the Department of Justice to issue hold departure order against all those charged as he vowed to continue the committee hearing until Ti surfaces.

The NBI said they have information on the whereabouts of Ti and “hopefully it could yield positive development.”

Gordon said if the NBI needs to publish the face of Ti in the national dailies, they should do it just to arrest him.

“If you have to put his face on the front pages of the newspapers, do it…we will not close this (inquiry) until they all show up or we have arrested them,” Gordon said.

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