DPWH mum on unpaid expropriations

By Herbert Vego

WHETHER they have been underpaid or unpaid, they consider themselves “victims” of injustice inflicted by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) through expropriation of private properties for road widening.  I know many of them in my home province of Antique.

One of them is my classmate in high school, Cirilo Baldestamon, a fisherfolk leader who received the “Bugal kang Antique Award for Community Leadership” in 2002. He wrote an open letter in Filipino aimed at calling the attention of our legislators in Congress.

His open letter began with a few words of gratitude to the DPWH for paying him money for demolition of his concrete fence prior to expropriation of 52 square meters of his real estate in Villavert-Jimenez, Hamtic, Antique.

The  sad part, however, is that while the years have passed and the roads have already been widened, the agency has broken its promise to pay for his roadside property. Worse, the Municipal Assessor’s Office has not excluded the seized area from real estate taxation; and so he is still being taxed as if his original property were still intact.

“Ang ating gobyerno pa mismo ang nanloloko at ang niloloko ay ang mamamayang Pilipino,” he lamented.

Where has the budget for payment of the expropriated lots gone?

Take note that under Article III, Section 9 of the Constitution, “private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.”

Baldestamon expressed the hope that the three legislators who identify themselves as Antiqueños – Senator Loren Legarda, her brother Rep. Antonio Agapito Legarda and  Rep. Felimon Espares of Coop-NATCCO partylist — would probe the presumed irregularity through a Congressional investigation in aid of legislation.

So far, no action has been taken on Baldestamon’s “open letter.” But thank God, even  at age 77, he patiently waits.

May we hear from DPWH-6 OIC Regional Director Sanny O. Oropel?

-oOo-

WERE ICC REPS IN MANILA?

WE have been hearing unconfirmed reports that representatives of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague were in Manila in December 2023.

That is not surprising because they really had to come incognito to do a sensitive mission, which was to probe the Duterte administration’s bloody “war on drugs.” It entailed interviewing relatives of dead victims who number 6,000-plus based on police records, or at least 30,000 according to human rights organizations.

Regardless of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos’ statements that he would not cooperate with the ICC investigation, he really has no option but to cooperate for self-preservation. His “uniteam” with Vice-President Sara Duterte-Carpio has broken.  There is no doubt that, being a heartbeat away from the presidency, she is itching to take over.

Simply stated, if Marcos dies, is incapacitated, or impeached, she would take over as his legitimate successor.

There is a reason why the United States, European Union, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, among others, would not want another Duterte in Malacañang.  The former President was an ally of China, which is widely perceived as a threat to international navigation in the South China Sea.

In a speech, Duterte once joked about our country becoming a mere “province of China.”

We Filipinos are also averse to Chinese bullying of our fishermen at the West Philippine Sea and their harassment of the Philippine Coast Guard thereat.

The yarn that the ICC probe is a threat to our country’s sovereignty would not hold water even if the former President had severed our membership to it. No less than the Supreme Court has ruled that the Philippines is still obliged to cooperate in ICC’s criminal proceedings for acts committed before March 17, 2019 when the validity of membership withdrawal would have taken effect.

Let us recall that the Philippines through then President Noynoy Aquino signed the Rome Statute (membership treaty with the ICC), which was ratified by the Senate on August 23, 2011 to take effect on November 1, 2011.

Marcos was one of the 17 senators who voted for that ratification. Some of them have come back to the Senate, including Loren Legarda, Lito Lapid, Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Chiz Escudero, Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada.

There is no doubt that even the United Nations (UN) is actively working to convince Marcos to cooperate with the ICC through UN rapporteur Irene Khan, who spent one week in Manila on the pretext of assessing the state of free speech and media rights in the Philippines.

It would be to Bongbong’s advantage to yield to UN pressure.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here