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12 rapped for faking land titles

By Alcuin Papa
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:06:00 10/16/2010

Filed Under: Government, Graft & Corruption

MANILA, Philippines?The Office of the Ombudsman charged 12 people, including two officials of land agencies, on Friday for faking land titles in exchange for money.

The agency identified the two officials as Alejandrino Cabanilla, Land Management Specialist of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources?s Land Management Bureau, and Iderlina Icobeza, Land Registration Examiner of the Registry of Deeds of Cagayan. The two were slapped with 10 counts of falsification under the Revised Penal Code.

Also charged with one count each of falsification were private respondents Pedro P. Gambala, Protecto P. Damaso Sr., Renato M. Avila, Zosimo S. Alconcel Jr., Martin T. Juan, Benjamin M. Otrillo Sr., Wilfredo M. Inggan, Eufreserio P. Damaso Sr., Rodolfo P. Gambala, Maricon N. Gonzalez and Felix D. Ebuenga Sr.

The charges stemmed from a complaint filed by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, who had earlier requested the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the issuance of spurious land titles in Sta. Ana, Cagayan.

According to records of the case, the private respondents engaged the services of Cabanilla to follow-up their applications for homestead. Cabanilla managed to produce Original Certificates of Title (OCT) covering several lots in Sta. Ana, which he later endorsed to Icobeza for registration. The titles were then delivered to the private respondents.

But the NBI found that Cabanilla prepared the titles by forging the signatures of deceased persons. Icobeza had assigned the title numbers and filed them in the vault of the Registry of Deeds.

Records of the case further revealed that Pedro Gambala, Avila, Juan, Ebuenga, Rodolfo Gambala and Inggan were able to sell the lots covered by the anomalous titles to PR Bank for P20,000 per hectare. The other respondents also managed to make offers to sell their lots to property developers.

In a 14-page review, the Ombudsman said that the ?interlocking roles of respondents Cabanilla and Icobeza paved the way to the issuance of the fake OCTs.?

On the other hand, the private respondents benefited from the falsification of the documents. Even if the other respondents have not managed to sell their lots, the Ombudsman said ?their act of offering their property to developers shows that they stood to profit from, and thus have an interest in, the issuance of the fake OCTs.?

Complicity of the private respondents was also evident when they failed to question the authenticity of the faked titles ?even when it is glaring on the face of the titles that they have been issued in 1979 or 1980, which is 26 years before they gave public respondent Cabanilla in 2006 the documents which are the prerequisites to the issuance of the subject titles.?

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