Torres also tried to grab Tierra Pura, says legislator
Wilfredo S. Torres, who is claiming a 24-hectare prime property on Visayas Avenue in Quezon City as his own, earlier laid claim to nearby Tierra Pura subdivision on Tandang Sora Avenue, a lawmaker said Thursday.
Manila Representative Amado Bagatsing, former vice chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), said complainant Tierra Pura, owned by the husband of former Senator Eva Estrada-Kalaw, won the case against Torres on Feb. 28, 2000.
Bagatsing said the Regional Trial Court Branch 79 of Quezon City declared the titles of Torres fake and canceled these in favor of Teodoro Kalaw Jr. (Civil Case No. Q-11138).
Bagatsing, who was responsible for the arrest and the filing of land-grabbing cases against Torres in 2005, described him as the “godfather” of all squatting syndicates in the country.
The lawmaker told the Inquirer that Torres’ group was No. 2 on the Philippine National Police’s order of battle of squatting syndicates.
Also on the order of battle was the Rodriguez Group that operates in Parañaque City, Green Valley Subdivision in Bacoor, Cavite province, South Superhighway in Taguig City and Gulod Malaya in San Mateo, Rizal province.
Bagatsing is also the former head of the Task Force against Professional Squatters and Squatting Syndicates. Its areas of operation included the lots within the Bases Conversion Development Authority, Golden Shower in Payatas, Quezon City, and Wiltor Heights on Tandang Sora Avenue, also in Quezon City.
Torres was arrested by Bagatsing’s task force at his residence in Brookside Hills subdivision in Cainta, Rizal province, in March 2005. Personnel from the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation Group and the Manila Police were part of the task force.
The arrest stemmed from complaints filed by wives of several policemen whom Torres victimized by selling them fake land titles.
Torres and his group, composed of “agents” identified only as Collamar, Raquedan and Bangug, allegedly operate by claiming ownership of vast areas of residential lands.
The syndicate then sells properties to poor and unsuspecting families seeking a house and lot to own.
Torres was presented to the media by then Vice President Noli de Castro after his arrest.
At that time, De Castro said Torres’ syndicate falsified documents and issued Spanish titles with the help of their contacts at the assessor’s office, Registry of Deeds, Land Registration Authority and the Bureau of Lands.
Bagatsing said Torres was convicted on Oct. 10, 1973, by the Court of First Instance of Manila and the City Court of Manila of two counts of estafa through falsification of public documents.
Torres was sentenced from 11 years, 10 months and 22 days in prison to 38 years, 5 months and 1 day and to pay an indemnity of P127,728.75.
On April 18, 1979, Bagatsing said Torres (Prison No. 88922-P) was released from prison through a conditional pardon signed by then President Ferdinand Marcos.
Several complaints for fake titles had also been filed against Torres in several courts, including in Malolos, Bulacan province, and Lucena City in Quezon.
Bagatsing is the principal author of House Bill No. 04656, which seeks to institute reforms in the government’s drive against professional squatters and squatting racketeers or syndicates.
The bill has been approved on third and final reading in the House of Representatives and is now in the Senate for approval.
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