I always looked forward to the month of May as a kid. A devout Catholic, my mom would always enrol me in the parish catechism class for the entire month of May. Catechism class would be from 8 a.m. until noon. Afternoon would always be siesta so I would grow up strong and healthy, Mom would tell me. But at 5 p.m., Mom would always bring me back to San Nicolas Church for the Flores De Mayo, a 30-day adoration to Mama Mary. Singing Dios Te Salve and Salve Regina with other kids was always an excitement while we offer kalachuchi to the image of Mama Mary.
As a student of catechism, I enjoyed bible story telling. A seminarian catechist would always read in front of our class of 20. The storyteller would narrate stories in artistic and lively manner. It would always feel like I was being transported to the biblical era.
One of my favorite bible stories was David and Goliath. I would always imagine Goliath to be a Palestinian giant, over nine feet tall, wearing full armor; while David is a skinny little peasant.
I loved the story so much that I would request our catechism teacher to include that in his lesson plan. At times, I would imagine I was David, the champion who killed the lurid giant. Or, in school, I was the David saving my classmates from the Goliaths, our bullies.
The story of David and Goliath still excites me until now that I am thirty-something. Only, my mental picture of the two characters changes from time to time. But lately, I discovered a new angle— a Goliath who was once a David— the construction czar David Consunji, patriarch of the infamous DMCI.
I started unmasking the old Consunji in my column on Tuesday. It was subtle, not knowing I was actually opening a Pandora’s box. This is the thrill of being a journalist, one story and other related stories, usually bigger ones, come to your doorsteps.
I was not expecting that the custodian of some important documents would entrust to me a copy of the 6-inch-thick files against Consunji-owned DMCI.
The documents made me realize that DMCI is not just the ‘pambansang photo bomber.’ The court-filed records show DMCI has a pile of skeletons that goes above the 47th floor of Torre de Manila.
Of course, last Tuesday’s column was about Col. Torres being a victim of fraudulent acts (tantamount to estafa) by DMCI. Let me name some more today.
The DMCI coal-fired power plant in Calaca, Batangas was raided in August last year after complaints of human trafficking. During the raid, at least 600 Chinese workers were found to be illegally working at the DMCI plant. These Chinese workers were reportedly recruited in mainland China and Taiwan but were only holding tourist visas.
On the other hand, in 2010, in one congressional investigation, the owners of the lots involved in the DMCI port project in Bolitoc, Sta. Cruz, Zambales, accused DMCI of land grabbing in connivance with some DENR officials. This accusation was corroborated and documented by a Review Joint Resolution by the Ombudsman on OMB-L-C-08-0386-E for violation of Sec.3 (e) of RA 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, recommending the indictment of DENR Regional Director Regidor De Leon, Regional Technical Director for Lands Leonardo Aggabao, Jr. and Engineer III Fernando Clerigo. The Ombudsman also recommended that the three be suspended for one year without pay. Note that the suspension was a penalty, not just preventive suspension.
Let me give a brief background based on the documents I obtained.
You know the story of the port on the mountain in Barangay Bolitoc. Complainant landowners Jaime Lazaro, Salvador Osita and Monico Waje accused DENR officials of conspiring in cancelling their approved survey plans to give way to the foreshore lease application of DMCI. The landowners also claimed that the approved survey plans were cancelled without the benefit of hearing, violating due process, and that the lots have not been eaten by the South China Sea, contrary to the claim of DMCI as further affirmed by the DENR regional office.
As alleged, DMCI levelled down the hill to have an abutment and make way for the foreshore lease. DMCI, together with the DENR officers, are said to have connived to make it appear that it was an underground water lot that dried down over the years when in fact, those involved are titled hilly lots – Lot 3599 covered by survey plan Csd-03-017881 owned by Lazaro; Lot 3600 covered by survey plan Csd 03-01864 owned by Osita and Lot 3566 covered by survey plan Csd -03-018180 owned by Waje.
The three owners went to court because DMCI was trespassing on their private property. This incident was also divulged during the investigation in Congress. Owners revealed how they were intimidated by the intruders— even in the presence of Sta. Cruz police who only have colt 45, the guards of DMCI who, I was told, were former CAFGU members from Mindanao, arrogated unto themselves AK-47 service firearms.
So, was it not tantamount to land grabbing? Did the DENR officials receive something in exchange for the DMCI manipulation?
But wait, here is more: There is bulung-bulungan within the Philippine Ports Authority employees about a P5 billion “padulas” for the foreshore permit. If this is true, then some people must be getting filthy richer every year because the permit is renewable annually. Will anybody confirm and help the anti-corruption drive of President Aquino?
Ooops, I have already exceeded the allowable space. I promise, there will be more. And if I don’t make it in one episode, I will serialize how Consunji, a former David, turned into a Goliath through his businesses.
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