Gordon: DPWH execs behind P8.7-B scam
GENERAL SANTOS CITY — Some officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) may have had a hand in the P8.7-billion road right-of-way scam uncovered here and in nearby areas of South Cotabato, Sen. Richard Gordon said on Friday.
“There is a mighty syndicate here that is operating right under our noses. And I cannot believe that there are certain sectors within DPWH who are being unfair to the rest of the good employees,” Gordon, chair of the blue ribbon committee, said during the Senate probe of the questionable road project.
He said the DPWH in Koronadal City paid billions of pesos to fake road right-of-way claimants.
The payments, Gordon said, were made through checks issued by Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines, also in Koronadal City. These were claimed by people who passed themselves off as representatives of the claimants.
Gordon identified Joan Ortega, Jane Ariolla, Nancy Catoto, Hazel Ann Tupalla, Flordeliza Alipis, Susan Alido, Pee Ann Herman, Jumel Manalang, Herman Daitol Susan Rallies and John Bacudo among those who got paid.
Reynaldo Tamayo, former director of the DPWH in Central Mindanao, said the transactions for the claims payments were initiated in 2012.
“We inspected the site to determine if they’re authentic and found out the claimants have authentic papers,” he said.
Tamayo said the checks were released three years later to the claimants.
Leonardo Dinopol, head of the General Santos City assessors office, said his office never issued spurious documents, contrary to the claim of whistleblower Roberto Catapang Jr.
Catapang, now under the witness protection program, said the syndicate had contacts in the assessors office who prepared the documents to support the spurious claims.
He said at least 50 fake titles were issued tax declaration documents by the assessors.
Sen. Manny Pacquiao, chair of the public works committee, said he learned that the modus operandi of the syndicate was to “claim for just compensation of road right of way, which are intended for rightful owners, whose lands were affected by national highway construction.”
The Senate right-of-way scam hearings will resume on May 8.
The National Bureau of Investigation has filed a plunder complaint against former Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson.
The others sued by the NBI were David Padlan, the officer in charge of the planning and design division of DPWH Region 12; Hadji Ibrahim A. Marohom, former chief of the finance division; Faisal Padate, former legal unit chief; Tomas Rodriguez, former assistant regional director; Siniloan Macarambon, former regional director; and other DPWH officials and employees. —Jeoffrey Maitem