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DENR wants illegal land titles on Boracay cancelled

By: - Correspondent / @nestorburgosINQ
/ 05:24 PM April 03, 2018

An aerial view of Boracay during the inspection conducted by DOT Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo and DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu (Photo by Department of Tourism)

ILOILO CITY—The government is still seeking the cancellation of land titles issued illegally by personnel of the Department of Environment and Natural Resource (DENR) on Boracay Island seven years ago.

The case against eight DENR personnel in Western Visayas found guilty of administrative liabilities for the issuance of the land titles has not been resolved with finality even as the agency is cracking down on environmental violators in Boracay.

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The DENR central office has filed complaints for the cancellation of titles and reversion against 18 title holders for 21 homestead patents covering 70,573 square meters or 7.05 hectares.

The Office of the Solicitor General representing the DENR filed the complaints involving seven of the homestead patents in courts in the capital town of Kalibo in Aklan, according to documents from the DENR Western Visayas office.

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The homestead patents were issued to lots ranging from 58 square meters to 14,748 sqm located in Barangays Balabag and Manoc-Manoc, two of Boracay’s three villages.

The complaints involved homestead patents issued to Ramon Cojuangco Jr., Luna Villaruz, Alicia Sacapano, Juvy Gross, Dolores Latoy, Andro Gabay, Haide de los Santos, Araceli Gabay, Geovanni Pascual, Nelly Mancera, Jean Castillo, Dolores Sacapano, Rosemarie Bettschen, Nora Castillo, Jocelyn Sualog, Naomi Sastre, Belinda Martinez and Amalia Solis.

The case stemmed from the issuance of the patents to property occupants from November 2009 to December 2010.

A homestead patent is a mode of acquiring a title for public lands areas categorized as alienable and disposable and which are used for agricultural purposes.

After an internal investigation in 2011, the DENR declared the issuance of the homestead patents as invalid. It said the issuance of homestead patents was irregular because the lots involved were commercial or residential but declared as agricultural.

The agency relieved and filed administrative complaints against several of its personnel for issuing the homestead patents, issuing multiple patents to a patentee when the law allows only one, and issuing patents to lots covering or overlapping the 15-meter road easement.

In a 38-page decision issued on April 27, 2017 and released on May 9, 2017, then Environment Secretary Regina Lopez found eight DENR personnel in Western Visayas guilty of administrative liabilities.

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Lopez ordered the dismissal from service of Pedy de Pedro (land management specialist) and Algaro Nonan (deputy public land inspector) who were found guilty of grave misconduct and dishonesty.

Merlene Aborka (Boracay community environment and natural resources officer) and Antonio Luis (officer-in-charge of the Aklan provincial environment and natural resources office) were found guilty of gross neglect of duty and meted each a suspension of six months without pay.

Also meted with administrative sanctions were Emmanuel Tipgos (engineer) who was found guilty of simple misconduct and simple dishonesty and meted a six-month suspension without pay.

Mamerto Caballero (chief, regional surveys division) was ordered suspended for three months without pay for simple misconduct and simple neglect of duty.

Althea Acevedo (chief, technical services section) and Romulo Sumaculub (chief, original and other surveys division) were each meted a three-month suspension without pay for simple neglect of duty.

The decision is pending an appeal before the office of Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu.

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TAGS: administrative cases, Boracay land titles, DENR, homestead patents, Office of Solicitor General, Roy Cimatu
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