A WITNESS in the alleged P9 billion road right of way (RRW) scam during the previous administration has linked the brother-in-law of former president Benigno Aquino 3rd as an endorser of the illegal land transaction.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd on Monday presented Roberto Catapang Jr., who was admitted to the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP).
Catapang claimed that he used to be part of the criminal syndicate that furnished fake titles to secure payments in exchange for landholdings that would be used for government RRW projects in Region 12, particularly Geneneral Santos City.
“It’s [the]talk of the town in the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) Central in Manila. [DPWH] Central knows during the time of president Aquino if he was really the backer in Geneneral Santos [of syndicates]in road right of way claim,” Catapang added.
Asked to name names, Catapang said: “Sir Eldon Cruz.”
To prove his claim, Catapang showed a photocopy of an endorsement letter, dated January 12, 2011, signed by Cruz and addressed to former Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson.
“Attached herewith is a revised letter request for your good office to endorse to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in relation to settlement of ROW claim in payment of properties affected by an infrastructure in General Santos City,” part of the alleged Cruz letter said.
“We trust that you will find everything in order and have taken the liberty of drafting the document for your consideration and signature,” it ended.
The letter though has no printed name of Cruz below his alleged signature.
He claimed that he has other similar letters, and one of them even has a logo of Malacanang, adding that a lawyer from the DPWH legal department also confirmed to him the existence of Cruz’s letter-endorsement.
Catapang also showed a letter request from Singsong to Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, dated December 23, 2013, requesting for the release of P500 million for 18 pieces of fake land titles, as payment was immediately released on December 27, 2013.
The DOJ chief pointed out that the payment was very unusual, considering the speed by it was released, and considering that December 24 and 25 were holidays.
The latest payment released, Catapang claimed, was before the May 2016 elections in the amount of P700 million in Region 13, but showed no documents to prove it, saying that it was only relayed to him by a friend who is also involved in said scam.
At the same time, Aguirre disclosed that he has approved the immigration lookout order (ILBO) for 43 personalities, who were linked by Catapang to the land scam.
Aguirre also instructed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to find out the involvement of Aquino administration officials. WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL