San Miguel to advance payment to landowners affected by TPLEX
MANILA, Philippines – San Miguel Corp. (SMC) said Monday it will advance the payment to landowners for properties seized by the state between 2015 and 2017 for the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX ), which the country’s largest conglomerate built and now operates.
In a statement, SMC said its Private Infra Development Corp. (PDIC) unit will advance payment for the unpaid portion of the properties which, according to sources, amount to “over P60 million” in unpaid government obligations.
Landowners earlier complained that government has yet to fully pay them for their properties, but government officials countered that the problem lies mainly with incomplete documents submitted by claimants resulting in delays in the review and payment process.
“Our wish is for the situation to be remedied as soon as possible,” SMC president Ramon Ang said. “We will advance the payment for the government. We understand the plight of the landowners, and also recognize the position of the government. But we would like to assure them that we are ready to resolve this issue and expedite payment.”
Ang said SMC is working with the government, through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to quickly resolve all issues and help them deliver on their commitment so that claimants are finally compensated.
For some time now, landowners, whose lands were acquired from 2015 to 2017, had been demanding full payment for their properties from DPWH.
Initially, and as mandated by right-of-way acquisition laws, they had received partial payment for their properties, including full payment for any structures, trees, and crops.
This payment was advanced by PIDC to pave the way for the infrastructure project’s construction.
However, the process of fully acquiring the lands has taken longer.
As mandated by law, an independent appraiser, the Development Bank of the Philippines, had to undertake valuation of the properties. This was completed in June 2017.
Immediately after the appraisal, the DPWH was supposed to send offer letters to landowners to purchase their properties at the appraised value. The agency was able to fully accomplish this by March 2018.
At present, it is reviewing claimants’ documents to ensure their completeness. But this has proven daunting as many claimants are said to have incomplete documents.
Last week, a number of landowners staged a protest at the Pozzorubio Exit of the TPLEX to vent their ire. It was agreed that DPWH would pay claimants with complete documents within a month’s time. /kga
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