SENATOR Emmanuel Pacquiao was criticized by General Santos City residents for joining Senator Richard Gordon’s investigation of the alleged P8.7-billion road-right-of-way (RROW) land syndicate scam when he himself acquired properties that two tribal groups are claiming as ancestral land.
Pacquiao is chairman of the Senate committee on public works.
The Manila Times sources said Pacquiao bought 15 hectares of the 800-hectare ancestral land that two tribal groups are contesting in Barangay Tinoto in Maasim, Sarangani. A case on the landholdings is still pending before the Court of Appeals.
Arturo Lawa, former mayor of Maasim town and member of the Ogon-Lawa clan, said Pacquiao already had the 15 hectares titled under his and his wife Jinky’s name in violation of the 1987 Indigenous Peoples Right Act or IPRA law. ,
He also pointed out that the 15-hectare lot was titled in a short time.
“It is tantamount to concealing the provisions of the 1987 IPRA law because the landholdings are being contested by two indigenous clans as their ancestral claim. Pacquiao cannot have the land titled because it is covered under the Forest Land Grazing Lease Agreement (FLGLA),” Lawa said.
Pacquiao allegedly owns properties in GenSan bearing fake titles processed through his land administrator Wahid Bualan, former chairman of Barangay Tambler, the former mayor said.
A source also revealed that Pacquiao failed to develop his 300-hectare land in Barangay Conel in GenSan but its former mayor Pedro Acharon Jr. rejected its application to develop the area as a special economic zone after it was found that the land has questionable titles.
Asked for reaction, the camp of Pacquiao and Bualan refused to comment on the issue.
“Senator Pacquiao must inhibit himself from the RROW syndicate land scam investigation because even he himself is trying to conceal facts in relation to what is really happening in the landholdings in GenSan”, said one claimant from the Ismael clan.
The two indigenous tribes contesting the 800-hectare property in Barangay Tinoto were Mohammad Ismael Sr. and the Ogon-Lawa clan that raised the case to the Court of Appeals. Although their claims were approved by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, the rightful ownership of the property has not yet been determined.