Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has ordered an investigation into reports that local politicians in Surigao del Sur are selling government-sequestered land in the province.
The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division issued a resolution on January 3 directing the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to conduct the investigation as the agency tasked to protect government assets acquired illegally by the Marcos family and their cronies.
The property is owned by the Lianga Bay Logging Company, Incorporated (LBLCI), a defendant in one of the many pending civil cases related to the Marcos ill-gotten wealth pending before the Sandiganbayan.
The court received reports that some local politicians had “subdivided, distributed and/or sold” the property.
“There is therefore a need for the plaintiff Republic of the Philippines to secure the assets of the LBLCI against damage and dissipation, considering that to date, this Petition for Reconveyance remains pending,” said the resolution penned by Associate Justice Maryann Corpus Mañalac, the ponente of the decision that convicted former first lady Imelda Marcos of 7 counts of graft.
The reports came from the Diatagon Labor Federation (DLF), which has been allowed to participate in the ligation for having claims in the shares of stocks of the impleaded companies. The case is worth P51 billion in damages.
The LBLCI and other defendants are accused of obtaining millions of dollars of loans from the Development Bank of the Philippines and Government Service Insurance System from 1973 to 1982.
The DLF attached agreements, receipts, and even environmental issuances to prove that the property was being sold piece by piece.
The PCGG initially told the court that “it would be impossible to consider and ocular inspection” if they were to go by the DLF’s information only.
But the PCGG was overruled by the Sandiganbayan as the court compeled the agency to conduct an investigation “instead of just sitting aback and closing its eyes.”
There are measures in Congress seeking to abolish PCGG and put its functions under Solicitor General Jose Calida, a Marcos loyalist. (READ: Robredo slams plan to abolish, transfer PCGG to Calida's office) – Rappler.com