Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Unalienable land must remain unalienable!

Here is a question that Filipinos ought to ask themselves. When a land is declared unalienable (meaning, it is beyond the commerce of man according to the Philippine Constitution) can a Supreme Court decision declared such a land as alienable even if a great part of it is under the sea? This is the question that the people of the Municipality of Liloan 18 kilometers North of Cebu City are just beginning to ask questions, why was 92 hectares of the 500 hectare Silot Bay awarded to the family of Labor Leader Democrito Mendoza and titular head of the Associated Labor Unions (ALU)?

Perhaps a simpler question to ask is… can an ordinary man on the street a.k.a. Juan dela Cruz secure a permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and have it titled even if a great portion of the land is under water? Of course not! Even squatters who occupy land that doesn’t belong to them may occupy it…but never own it.

This is the crux of the issue… where on March 28, 2007, the Supreme Court granted ownership of a large portion of Silot Bay to the Mendoza family even if they could not occupy it because believe it or not…it was part of the tidal basin of Silot Bay and therefore unalienable. Apparently the people of Liloan Town and its Mayor Duke Frasco are up in arms about this lopsided SC Ruling granted clearly to very powerful people.

In that March 2007 decision the SC said in part, “If the titles of innocent buyers were recognized and protected in the afore-mentioned circumstances, even when the original title to the property was obtained through fraud, then the titles of the purchasers in good faith and for value of the fishpond areas in the present case better deserve our recognition and protection.”

At this point, I dare all the Supreme Court Justices who signed that order to come to Cebu City and look and see for themselves portion of Silot Bay that someone had allegedly or fraudulently sold to the Mendoza Family for the simple reason that the sea is unalienable and could never be titled. Remember the scam when someone sold the Eiffel Tower or the Brooklyn Bridge? If we based this SC ruling… then the Brooklyn Bridge would have belonged to a private individual!

In my book, if it was an ordinary man who was gypped in that allege fraudulent sale… it would have been a simple case of “caveat emptor” or Buyers Beware! But in this country where corruption is the rule rather than the exception… I dare say that the SC decision in the Silot Bay case was made “under duress” or “Sub Coercitione” after all the Associated Labor Union (ALU) is such a powerful organization and its officials can get anything it wants under any government.
Finally after six long years, the people of Liloan have awakened because the Mendoza Family started putting fences even if portion of this land is under the sea. This prompted the Municipal Council of Liloan to approve a resolution seeking a review of the Silot Bay case. Meanwhile Mayor Frasco has issued a notice of illegal construction in the setting up of the fence.

But more importantly for the people of Liloan… and yes for the Filipino people as a whole… that when it comes to titling of properties… anything that is under the sea should always remain unalienable… even if the Supreme Court says otherwise. So let’s see if the SC would make this review and give justice where justice is really due to the people of Liloan.

 (The Philippine Star) |

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