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Village chair, councilor in land grabbing case

A barangay captain and his councilor were named in a case that involves an alleged grabbing of land owned by a Lumad in Marilog District.

Named respondents in the case filed before the City Council are village chair Diomedes Dela Cruz and village councilors Lito Lantajo of Barangay Tamugan, Marilog District.

Buray Insing Aguijitas, a 76-year-old member of Obo-Manobo tribe, sought the help of Vice Mayor Bernard Al-Ag for the alleged abuse and injustice committed by dela Cruz and Lantajo.

Aguijitas alleged that dela Cruz favored the land grabbers and denied their rights as the land owner. Lantajo, on the other hand, is one of the illegal occupants in the 10.4-hectare property, and introduced destructive measures that they could no longer plant in the once agricultural land.

Aguijitas said she inherited a lot from her sister Mylan Insing in Tamugan.

The complainant said the case was already decided in their favor by Regional Trial Court Branch 16 and was sustained by the Supreme Court.

There are tenants in the land as recognized by the Department of Agrarian Reform and that there was an agreement between the two parties.

But the tenants later refused to observe the agreement. This includes the non-payment of rentals.
Aguijitas said they filed a case before the DAR regional office, which favored their side. An appeal is pending before the DAR in Manila.

She said a certain Rodolfo Santos claimed ownership in a portion of the property. However, Santos was disqualified by the court because he did not buy it from the actual owner.

Aguijitas said respondent dela Cruz allowed the conduct of a survey on the property claimed by Santos, without informing or asking permission from them.

The complainant also said a group led by a certain Edwin Tamesis illegally entered the property.

The barangay captain, she said, also allowed them to conduct a survey on the property, again without their information or asking permission from them.

In the survey report, the group claims the property is an excess of the land owned by Aguijitas.

Further, they used the survey report to oust Aguijitas and her two children from the property.

Councilor Lantajo is one of those who occupied the land, alleging that he sought permission from Tamesis, one of those who illegal occupied in the property.

Aguijitas said she appealed to Lantajo not to squat on the property, being a barangay official.

But the barangay councilor instead fenced the property. He also filled the property with sand as he built facilities to convert it into a parking space for his dump trucks. The barangay official even cut coconut trees without permit from the Philippine Coconut Authority, the complainant said.

With this, Aguijitas said they could no longer plant on their land as the once agricultural property became wasted.

The complainant said she went to the barangay captain to settle the matter.

However, the village chief warned her that she could not enter the barangay hall.

Further efforts to seek help from the barangay were rejected.

Further, the barangay captain even blocked the survey team from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Aguijitas said they sought from the barangay a certificate to file action as the matter was not settled in the barangay level. But the barangay captain refused to issue.

She said that they spent money in the litigation of the case due to the problem brought by the squatters, including Lantajao.

“The action of dela Cruz not to recognize us as the rightful owner and favored the illegal occupants has caused us a big problem,” Aguijitas said.

The case is now under the Committee on Ethics and Good Government under Councilor Jesus Joseph Zozobrado.

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