Tang in check
And then the Senate simply wanted to investigate the horrible dispersal of protesting farmers in Kidapawan City, a second-class city in Northern Cotabato in central Mindanao.
Well and good—three farmers died of gun shot wounds in the incident.
For four straight days and nights, thousands of farmers gathered there in protest over the Aquino (Part II) administration’s alleged failure to help farmers amid the severe drought from the El Niño phenomenon.
The administration, indeed, has declared the entire central Mindanao under a state of calamity because of the drought.
In the forthcoming Senate hearings, the big picture nevertheless would still have to be the widespread drought and what our leader, Benigno Simeon aka BS, did to mitigate its effects on farmers.
For instance, how did his boys spend the P19 billion that the administration set aside in the 2016 budget for the mitigation program?
For what I heard, the P19 billion was just another one of the many controversial “lump sum” items in the budget.
It meant the Department of Agriculture, the program lead agency, could do whatever it would damn please with the money.
And that was precisely the trouble with this administration, its penchant for putting hundreds of billions of pesos as lump sum items in the budget.
As early as October last year, the Neda was already making noise in media about the mitigation program, something about its being under preparation, although Pagasa said El Niño had already started.
Yet, nobody in the agriculture sector knew anything about the mitigation program at that time, and even up to today it seemed to be a closely guarded state secret.
Still, the boys of our leader BS insisted that the administration, more than any other in the past, was in a better position to deal with El Niño. How was that? Well, it had a lot of money, what with the P19 billion in lump sum in the budget!
Unfortunately, nobody could say as yet where the money went, how it helped the millions of people affected by the severe drought.
For whether our leader, BS, would care to admit it or not, his administration has neglected the agriculture sector.
Official figures showed that in the past six years of this administration, agriculture posted a pathetic yearly average growth rate of 1.6 percent, the lowest in the post-Edsa era.
Last year, despite the boast of the administration about its sterling performance in the economy, agriculture posted a growth rate of 0.11 percent.
From what I heard, the Land Registration Authority (LRA) recently made a complete turnabout on a case involving 700 hectares of land in General Santos City in Mindanao—for still unexplained reasons.
It seemed the LRA issued a resolution—albeit, undated—allowing transactions to continue on a good number of land titles that were nevertheless consolidated under the one title.
Holding the title, as it turned out, was big-time business for Jimmy T. Tang, the chair and president of Manila-based Avenue Electrical Supply Co. (Avesco), a 70-year-old electrical hardware retail institution.
About two years ago (Breaktime, Nov. 14, 2014), Tang suddenly appeared in General Santos City with a consolidated title for those 700 hectares, a property adjacent to the airport and, therefore, deemed valuable.
He reportedly wanted the Register of Deeds of this southern Mindanao city to register the entire thing under his name, claiming he bought everything.
The LRA way back in 2004 checked the authenticity of the land titles that supposedly covered the same property claimed by Jimmy Tang, even creating a group called Task Force Titulong Malinis, which declared once and for all that they were fake.
Those were the same titles apparently held by Tang.
In 2014, the Register of Deeds said it could not register the supposed land acquisition of Jimmy Tang, as he requested, because the LRA had determined that the mother title of the five parcels were spurious.
The LRA took notice that the 700 hectares claimed by Jimmy Tang formed part of the 750-hectare property belonging to the government, covered by a lease arrangement between the DENR and the Mindanao-based Alsons group, under an “integrated forest management agreement.”
In 2014, the Senate committee on justice and human rights conducted hearings on the proliferation of fake land titles in the country. Chaired by Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, the committee found out about the racket in the LRA called saksak-bunot, in which the syndicates connive with some LRA staff to insert fake land titles into its files to give them “semblance of validity.”
The Pimentel committee found out that, in GenSan, alone, some 6,000 fake land titles were in circulation.
LRA officials testified in the hearings that the land titles supposedly held by Jimmy Tang were mere scraps of paper.
The Alsons group already ran to the court for TRO against the LRA.
From what I gathered, LRA Administrator Eulalio C. Diaz III signed the undated resolution making the sudden turnabout.
But Pimentel issued a warning to the LRA about the turnabout, asking for an explanation, even saying there would be dire consequences.