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GenSan owns park area–SC

/ 09:54 PM March 11, 2013

GENERAL SANTOS CITY—After 25 long years, the Supreme Court has finally ruled that the city government is the rightful owner of 1.5 hectares of land inside Magsaysay Park, which the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Retirement and Separation Benefits System (RSBS) had been contesting.

In a decision penned by Justice Mariano del Castillo, the high court trashed the 16 transfer certificates of titles (TCTs), which the RSBS submitted as supporting documents, saying “the subject area is inalienable and nondisposable.”

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The RSBS said it paid P440 million to acquire the piece of land from the heirs of Cabalo Kusop in 1997. It had planned to turn the area into a condominium-hotel complex but then South Cotabato Rep. Luwalhati Antonino exposed the deal as “dubious.”

Antonino’s privilege speech in the Lower House prompted a congressional inquiry.

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When her husband, Adelbert, defeated Rosalita Nuñez in the 1998 elections, the city government pursued a case against the RSBS. In November 2001, the city government got a favorable decision from the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 23 here but the RSBS went to the Court of Appeals (CA).

In October 2007, the CA overturned the RTC decision and ruled in favor of the RSBS. The city government then sought the help of the Office of the Solicitor General and filed an appeal before the Supreme Court.

In its decision last month, the Supreme Court said “certificates of title issued covering inalienable and nondisposable public land, even in the hands of an alleged innocent purchaser for value, should be canceled.”

It cited a 1963 proclamation by then President Diosdado Macapagal declaring the 5.2-hectare Magsaysay Park—consisting of Lots X, Y1 and Y2—a reservation area for recreation and health purposes.

In 1983, then President Ferdinand Marcos issued a proclamation that declared Lots Y1 and Y2 open to disposition to qualified applicants. As a result, only the 1.5-hectare Lot X was left of the park reservation.

The heirs of Kusop, through their legal counsel Nilo Flaviano, managed to obtain 16 original TCTs over Lot X and sold the area to the RSBS. The agency later secured new titles over the area. Aquiles Zonio, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Retirement and Separation Benefits System, Magsaysay Park, News, Regions, Supreme Court
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