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Ex-Justice Tinga cleared in land row

/ 05:49 AM February 17, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed a graft complaint against retired Supreme Court Justice and former House of Representatives member Dante Tinga that alleged that he used his influence in a property dispute in Taguig.

The Ombudsman said there was no evidence that Tinga, when he was a Taguig representative, had intervened in the disposition of the land, which was later sold to a nephew of his wife. It also said the transaction was valid.

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The complaint against Tinga was filed by Jovito Olazo, who alleged that Tinga, as a lawmaker and member of the committee on awards, used his influence so that his wife’s nephew, Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguez, could acquire the property that used to belong to Olazo’s father, Miguel.

However, the Office of the Ombudsman said this was not the case.

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No evidence

“The complainant, however, failed to present sufficient evidence to prove that Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguez was only able to obtain the award for the lot through the manipulation and influence of respondent Tinga,” it said.

Olazo had applied for a sales application from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the parcel of land his family had been tilling as farmers, but his father Miguel had contested this and filed his own sales application. Miguel later decided to sell the rights to his property and disposed of it in favor of Rodriguez.

According to the Office of the Ombudsman, there was nothing in the record to show that the dispute between Olazo and his father was brought to the government’s committee on awards in which Tinga was a member.

Instead, the matter was brought to the DENR, which ruled against Olazo, it said.

“Considering that the conveyance made by Miguel Olazo of his right over the land in dispute is valid and that Joseph Jeffrey Rodriguez was a valid transferee of said rights, there was therefore no injury to speak of,” it said.

It also said Rodriguez’s relation to Tinga and the latter’s assistance to Miguel for the conveyance of the property was not sufficient proof that Tinga had influenced the committee on awards.

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The Office of the Ombudsman also said that Rodriguez got the property by virtue of the final decision of the DENR, and not because of Tinga’s manipulation or influence in the committee. In light of this, the complaint against Tinga was dismissed.

The resolution dismissing the case against Tinga was approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on February 2.

But when the Inquirer followed up Tinga’s case with the Office of the Ombudsman last week, it was told that the case was ongoing, and that the agency was expected to issue a statement on the matter soonest.

Tinga also earlier branded Olazo’s complaint as a political move instigated by the Cayetanos to discredit his candidacy for Taguig mayor in the 2010 elections.

Olazo had denied this and said he filed the case without any instigation or collusion with anybody.

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TAGS: Dante Tinga, graft complaint, land dispute, Office of the Ombudsman
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