Plunder raps filed vs. exDPWH chief, et al over ‘right of way’ scam

MANILA The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Wednesday filed plunder and graft charges against former Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio Singson and 33 others before the Office of the Ombudsman over the alleged roadrightofway (RROW) scam.

The complaint stemmed from the fraudulent RROW claims for projects in General Santos City amounting to PHP8.7 billion.

Aside from Singson, also included in the complaint were: Wilma O. Mamburan, whom the NBI identified as the manager and leader of the syndicate; Nelson Ti, the alleged financier of the operation; Col. Chino Mamburan; Mercedita Dumlao; Evelyn Paloso; Rudy Ong; and Roberto T. Catapang, who was earlier named as state witness.

Likewise named were members of the ROW committee namely David L. Padlan, Hadji Ibrahim Marohom, Atty. Faisal A. Padate, Tomas M. Rodriguez and Siniloan T. Macarambon.

Also named as respondents were the late Rodel L. Unos, an engineer who conducted the filed verification, inspection and validation of a report on the owners of the lots.

Also included in the complaint were Ansare M. Busran, Reynaldo S. Tamayo, Noraisa U. Abdullah, Julieta P. Marundan, Nassef A. Papandayan ,Laureano Suan Jr., Subar S. Diron, Israel I. Balolong, Roger A. Oducayen, Edgar G. Pampanga, Carmencita Talub, Elmina P . Buenbrazo, and Engr. Ser John Pastrana who heads the Land Registration Authority (LRA)'s Micrographics Division.

It was Pastrana who allegedly issued a certification stating that the titles were authentic.

Also named were two lawyers who notarized the spurious claims, Atty. Jose Valentin and Bonifacio Doria, and attorneys in fact and persons who claimed to be actual owners of the properties namely Paul P. Bagio. Marisa Seguirre, William P. Uy. Marie Villamarin, and Mary Ann Joyce.

The facts of the case were primarily built around the admissions of Catapang who claimed to have acted as a conduit of the Mamburan and Paloso Groups, allegedly behind the RROW scam.

NBI Deputy Director for Regional Operations Services Antonio Pagatpat said the 34 respondents connived with one another to amass government funds.

Used as the basis of the complaint were the nine claims worth PHP255.54 million for just compensation for certain properties.

The claims were for the alleged properties in Barangay Lagao, General Santos City, which would have been affected by the construction of the DigosMakarBuayan National Road.

On the possible involvement in the alleged syndicate of former Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio Abad and former President Benigno Aquino III's brotherinlaw, Eldon Cruz, the NBI said the investigation is still ongoing for the remaining 291 claims in Region 12.

How the RROW scam works

In a press conference, Pagatpat and NBINational Capital Region head Cesar Bacani revealed Singson "requested payments of the claimants based on the spurious documents submitted by the regional DPWH" from Abad.

Based on the NBI report, Singson purportedly "declared that the transfer certificates of title (TCT) will be transferred in the name of the Republic after payment of 50 percent of the price but no TCTs were transferred," and ordered the release of the amount in favor of the bogus claimants.

"The DPWH as a rule ensures that the payment for lots should be effected only after the corresponding deed of sale had already been registered with the Registry of Deeds and the transfer of title was made in favor of the Republic," the NBI recommendation for prosecution pointed out.

The NBI added that their investigation showed that the syndicate manufactured fake supporting documents such as tax declarations and DENR reports as well fake personal credentials such as bogus PhilHealth IDs to back the fake claims.

The complaint is the initial case which arose from the probe of the scam uncovered last year when it was announced by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II announced the scheme by the Mamburan and Paloso Group could reach up to 300 claims amounting to PHP8.7 billion.

"(T)he nine disbursement vouchers supported by certificates of title were all spurious. This is the first nine vouchers that were given to us by the Commission on Audit," Pagatpat said.

Catapang said the modus operandi started in 2009 where he acted as conduit of Mamburan and the Paloso Group which were in charge with the fabrication of documents for the syndicate like TCTs, certified approved plan, parcellary map, linear diagram, road and access certification, regional attachments, technical description of lots, among other documents.

He also claimed that he brings documents to Unos at the Planning Department of DPWH Region 12.

"Apart from falsifying documents, the syndicate used bogus names (non existing persons) and persons of friends/relatives of the members of the syndicates as claimants. The alleged bogus claimants allegedly executed SPAs in favor of Mamburan or her dummies," the NBI said.

"The approval of the bogus claims was so certain, despite the tedious process and numerous approvals from various government offices due to monetary considerations. The syndicate allegedly has connections at DPWH, COA, City Assessor's Office and LRA," they added.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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