What Went Before: Marcos issued decree giving land to cronies
The Yulo King Ranch (YKR) covers 40,000 hectares within the municipalities of Busuanga and Coron in Palawan province, and is owned by alleged Marcos cronies Peter Sabido and Luis Yulo.
In 1975, then President Ferdinand Marcos issued Proclamation No. 1387 declaring YKR a pasture reserve.
In 1986, following the fall of the Marcos regime, YKR was among the properties sequestered by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) on allegations that they formed part of the Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth.
The administration of YKR was then transferred to the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), which converted the property to the Busuanga Breeding and Experimental Stations.
In March 2010, the Supreme Court ordered the government to lift the sequestration of YKR, citing mismanagement of the property.
“The court deems it proper to lift the writ of sequestration pending the final resolution of the main case before the Sandiganbayan,” the high tribunal said in its decision.
The court noted that when the BAI took over its management in 1986, the ranch had 75,477 cattle and 115 horses. By 2005, there were only 2,565 cattle and 76 horses left on the ranch.
Two months before she stepped down, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Presidential Proclamation No. 2057 on May 7, 2010, authorizing Philippine Forest Corp. (Philforest) to administer the development of idle lands covered by the pasture reserve indicated in Marcos’ Proclamation No. 1387.
Under Arroyo’s proclamation, the PCGG, BAI and other government agencies were directed to cease, desist and refrain from introducing further activities in the area, and ordered to turn over assets, rights and other interests over the property to Philforest.
In April, former Philforest president Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada, the whistle-blower against Arroyo in the anomalous NBN-ZTE broadband deal, alleged that Arroyo’s midnight proclamation benefited the real estate company of Jose “Jerry” Acuzar, a brother-in-law of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.
In a meeting with the media, Lozada showed the 2009 contract between Philforest and Acuzar’s New San Jose Builders Inc. (NSJBI). The deal awarded the company 2,000 hectares of land in Busuanga, Palawan, under the Busuanga Economic Productivity out of the Idle Land Agreements.
While all contracts of the awardees, including NSJBI, were canceled in December 2011 due to their failure to show project development plans, Lozada said some contracts were reconsidered, including that of NSJBI.
Lozada questioned why the Aquino administration continues to honor the midnight proclamation despite opposition from the people of Palawan.
He showed a copy of the letter of then Palawan Gov. Abraham Mitra to Aquino in October 2011, which asked that Proclamation No. 2057 be recalled, saying that it was against the earlier proclamation that declared the area a “pasture reserve.”
In his letter, Mitra said Proclamation No. 2057 was declared without consultations with the people living in the affected communities, as well as the local government units.—Inquirer Research
Sources: Inquirer Archives; Palawan Council for Sustainable Development; Supreme Court