Bank takes back land donated for evacuation site
DAGUPAN CITY, Pangasinan, Philippines — A 7,000-square-meter property donated to the city government was encumbered by a bank after it was used to acquire a loan three years ago, local officials said.
Former Mayor Belen Fernandez was authorized by the city council to accept a deed of donation for the property in 2017. The donated land, which was owned by the Pablico family, was being developed into an evacuation center in the island village of Pugaro.
Councilor Jose Tamayo said the area was part of a 5-hectare property that the owners used as a collateral to secure a loan from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP).
The owners initially claimed that the property was “free and clear of all liens and encumbrances” when they donated it to the city government.
Tamayo said the issue surfaced when six families, who claimed ownership over a portion of the donated property, sought the help of Mayor Brian Lim after learning that it was encumbered.
Lim asked the city council to invite the donors to explain why the property was encumbered by the bank. “In the first place, why did the past administration accept the donated land if it was being encumbered by the LBP,” he said.
Red Mejia, a former city councilor, said they were not aware that the donation was part of a bank collateral.
On Tuesday, lawyer Frank Angeles, counsel of the Pablico family, told the city council that he did not have the documents to prove that the donated land had been excluded from the property being encumbered by the bank.
He said the owners had informed the LBP of the donation, but that this “was not supported by any document.” But he said the donated land had been segregated and all necessary documents were already submitted to the Land Registration Authority.
He said the city government and the beneficiaries of the donated property should process the papers to legally own it.—YOLANDA SOTELO
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