CIDG starts probe of QC officials over disputed mall properties
MANILA — The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) has started looking into the complaints filed by the Ragua family against Quezon City local government officials who had issued permits to two giant malls on disputed properties.
CIDG legal division chief Virgilio Pablico said the CIDG-National Capital Region investigators led by CIDG-NCR head Senior Supt. Ronald Lee, have started pursuing the case.
The CIDG-NCR, last Feb. 1, had sent out letters to seven Quezon City officials, inviting them on Feb. 5, 8,9 and 10 to the CIDG-NCR office in Camp Crame, Quezon City, and asking them to bring documents pertaining to their issuance of permits for the SM North and Trinoma complexes, Pablico said.
Pablico said the letters were sent out to Pedro Rodriguez Jr., head of the Quezon city planning and development office; city treasurer Edgar Villanueva; city assessor Rodolfo Ordanes; city business permits and licensing office head Garry de la Cruz Domingo; city building official Isagani Versoza; city fire marshall Jesus Fernandez; and city hall consultant and secretary to the Mayor Tadeo Palma. All letters had been received by their respective offices, Pablico said.
“This is about the violation of government officials in issuing these permits in violation of law. Actually, this is an anti-graft case,” Pablico said of the Raguas’ complaint, in a phone interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Wednesday.
“The owners were not even consulted [when] the licenses and permits were issued,” Pablico said, adding that the CIDG had proof the Raguas’ ownership of the property.
“They [the Raguas] only want to file anti-graft cases against the government officials who connived.The malls stand there without paying anything to the owners of the land. [The city government] rents out the property, without paying anything to the owners,” Pablico said.
Meanwhile, the documents summoned by the PNP-CIDG regarding the permits issued to SM North and Trinoma will be submitted by the Quezon City government in the hearings set by the police on Feb. 9 and Feb. 10, according to a city official.
Karlo Calingasan of the Office of the City Attorney said a written position on the issue would also be submitted although the city government has not received a copy of the complaint filed by the Ragua heirs.
Both Calingasan and Regina Samson of the city’s Communications Coordination Center referred to the 2000 Supreme Court decision denying the Ragua heirs’ petition for lack of merit when sought for comment.
“We issued the permits in good faith because they produced the titles to the properties. And it was a national government agency that produced the title,” Samson said.
The parcel of land where Trinoma stands is covered by an agreement between Ayala, the National Housing Authority and the Department of Transportation and Communications, according to Samson. The property was part of the depot for the Metro Rail Transit.
In a letter dated Feb. 1, Senior Supt. Ronald Lee, regional chief of NCR-CIDG, asked Tadeo Palma to appear in Camp Crame “to shed light on this urgent matter and bring with you the certified copies of mayor’s permit by (SM North and Trinoma) and other related documents for our investigative references.”
Palma, who is secretary to the mayor, is addressed as city administrator in the letter. The city administrator is Aldrin Cuña.
The police official also summoned city building official Isagani Versoza Jr. and asked him to bring certified true copies of the requirements submitted by the two establishments in securing their building permits.
The Department of Building Official was in the process of retrieving the documents from its La Loma warehouse and could not give an official statement as of Wednesday. SFM
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.