DOJ to issue ILBO vs persons in P8.7-B road scam

MANILA — The Department of Justice (DOJ) is set to issue an Immigration Lookout Bulletin Order (ILBO) against the persons involved in fake road right-of-way (RROW) claims for government projects in General Santos City worth PHP8.7 billion.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is conducting an investigation into the anomalies based the testimonies of a witness who is now under DOJ custody.

“Based on initial reports submitted to me by the NBI, this criminal syndicate purportedly submitted fake titles in the name of non-existent persons to allow them to claim from the DPWH (Deparmtent of Public Works and Highways) the just compensation from the expropriation of land which will be supposedly occupied by government projects,” Aguirre said.

According to Aguirre, the modus operandi of this syndicate is it claims for ‘just compensation’ of RROW which are intended for rightful owners who were affected by the construction of a national highway in General Santos City.

The witness narrated how members of the syndicate would submit fake titles in the name of non-existent persons or fake landowners.

The syndicate would then allegedly secure payment using fake land titles. The scheme reportedly began in 2009.

Aguirre said a witness gave the names of those allegedly involved namely: Wilma Mamburam, Col. Chino Mamburan, Merceditas Dumlao and Nelson Ti, who is the group’s financier, allegedly a close friend of former President Benigno Aquino III.

“Some of the persons named by our witness as being involved are Wilma Mamburam, Col. Chino Mamburan, Merceditas Dumlao and Nelson Ti. Our witness further revealed that Mr. Nelso Ti, the financier of the group is a close relative of Domingo Lee, Philippine Envoy to China, and is supposedly close to former President Benigno Aquino III,” he said.

“Nandiyan pa rin sabi niya sa akin (The witness said they are still here.),” Aguirre said.

When asked if the other named members of the syndicate will have to be placed in the ILBO to monitor their movements, the Secretary replied “most probably.”

Aguirre added that the syndicate was already able to process over 300 RROW claims including one amounting to PHP29 million.

“I was also informed that for the syndicate to accomplish these apparently criminal acts, several public officials from the DPWH, Bureau of Internal Revenue, the City Assessor’s Office of General Santos, the Registry of Deeds, the Commission on Audit and the Regional Trial Courts were identified by the said witness as having participated in the processing, approval and eventual release of payments to cover these dubious claims,” he added.

Aguirre has already tagged former DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson and former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad as involved in the scheme.

Citing the signatures in the documents presented by the witness and his sworn statement, Aguirre said the two former officials of the Aquino administration may have potential liabilities for apparently approving and requesting the release of payment of fake RROW claims.

Aguirre refused to provide details about the witness who is now under Witness Protection Program but will be presented to the media next week.

“I have ordered the provisional admission of the witness to our Witness Protection Program for his protection and security,” he said.

Aguirre also ordered the NBI to investigate the scam, and look into the possibility the same modus is happening in other parts of the country, as he called on other people who have personal knowledge of the scheme to come forward and reveal the truth behind the anomaly. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA –