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MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) dismissed a compensation claim worth P87.84 million filed by a farmers’ group over loss of farmlands due to a 30-year-old food-control project by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
In its decision, the commission said the dismissal of the petition is due to lack of jurisdiction, adding that the petition should be handled by a trial court.
“The payment of financial assistance was a mere ancillary to the principal issue of determination of just compensation in expropriation proceedings which is not within the competence of this commission, but of the trial court,” COA said.
The claim stemmed from the DPWH’s Cabiao-Candaba Floodway Project, which traversed farmlands in the municipalities of Cabiao and San Antonio in Nueva Ecija province. The farmers first sought compensation in 2011.
The Infrastructure Right of Way Committee under the DPWH’s Central Office issued two memorandums, dated November 2011 and March 2012, which recommended the release of P110.887 million to some farmers.
The DPWH, however, asked COA to dismiss the claim since the group allegedly waited for 20 years before filing. It added that the group failed to provide proper documentation, citing the lack of titles and other necessary legal papers for the farmlands.
In its decision, COA said “these documents are necessary to determine whether the claimants have legal right to demand financial assistance.”
“The law is clear that claims against government funds should be substantiated by complete documentation,” it added. – Rappler.com