Ombudsman has no jurisdiction on Tabuk land issue

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TABUK CITY, Kalinga – The Office of the Ombudsman has no longer jurisdiction on a case filed against Mayor Darwin C. Estran֮ero on the alleged overpriced purchase by the local government of a property located at Laya East here purposely for public needs.

In her letter addressed to Mayor Estran֮ero, Maria Luisa V. Velasquez, chief administrative officer, records division of the Case Records Evaluation Monitoring and Enforcement Bureau, by authority of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, stated that as of February 17, 2021, the case filed against the local chief executive on the alleged overpriced purchase of a property for city needs at Laya East has already been referred to the Cordillera office of the Commission on Audit (COA-CAR), thus, the said office has no longer jurisdiction over the said case.

On the other hand, City Administrator Arnold G. Tenedero transmitted to the city’s COA audit team 5 transfer certificate of titles (TCTs) issued in favor of the local government in relation to the procured properties at Barangay Laya West, including the titles of other city-owned properties that were issued by the Registry of Deeds in the name of the city, as compliance to an earlier Audit Observation Memorandum (AOM) that questioned the alleged failure of the city to facilitate the transfer of the purchased property in its name to avoid third party claims that might be detrimental to the city’s interest.

Tenedero attached the certified true copies of the 5 TCTs that included duly issued titles for other city-owned properties, for the perusal and information of the city’s audit team as proof of the local government’s compliance to the required transfer of the same in the city’s name.

Part of the purchased property was already the subject of a deed of donation to the Philippine National Police (PNP) for the put up of a modern police station while some parcels of the property will be ceded to the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) for the construction of a city fire station.

Further, a portion of the property will also be donated to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for the put up of its office in the component city while another portion will be ceded to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) for the construction of a city jail and the rest of the property will be hosting the city’s motorpool and other city needs to sustain the delivery of quality services to the people.

He added that the plan to purchase lands for the aforesaid purposes started way back in February 2019 or during the incumbency of former mayor and now Kalinga Gov. Ferdinand Tubban and the same was only completed during the second semester of the same year wherein the purchase of the lots was supported by an appraisal report.

During the term of former Mayor Tubban, there were already offers made by some land owners for the sale of their properties which were valued at more than P3,000 per square meter that are not compliant with the requirements of the city where the lots must be near roads, accessible and have wide frontages.

When Mayor Estran֮ero assumed as the City Mayor in July 2019, there were some land owners in Laya West that also submitted their offers to sell their properties to the city with a much lower amount of P2,350 per square meter where the said properties are accessible, nearer to roads and have wide frontages that conform with the prescribed standards of the local government on the lots that will be purchased for public needs.

On July 29, 2019, the committee submitted their report to the city mayor recommending the appraised lands which are best suited and appropriate for the requirements of accessibility, location and widths for frontage and entrance.

On August 19, 2019, Resolution No. 116, series of 2019 was approved granting the request of the local chief executive for an authority to enter into a contract of sale for the purchase of the property and the body also concurred with the prescribed purchase price of P2,350 per square meter as the lots were able to comply with the requirements on accessibility, location and wide entrances and frontages.

On August 23, 2019, after all the necessary utilization by both parties, Estrañero entered into a deed of sale on the specific lands with the attorney-in-fact of the vendors with the local government duly represented by virtue of an authority given to him from the city council.

Concerned sectors lauded the efforts of Mayor Estran֮ero in trying to work out the purchase of available lands for city needs because of the increasing need of the local government to have additional assets that will be earmarked for public purposes in the future, thus, the importance of land banking on the part of the city to ensure the effective and efficient delivery of public services.

Moreover, Mayor Estran֮ero was commended by the concerned sectors for placing the delivery of quality services at the helm of his administration’s agenda and for being the local chief executive that had placed premium on the importance of land banking to be able to provide the people with the needed basic services.

The sectors cited the local government for declaring the actual purchase price of the said properties and for paying the taxes due to the government unlike in the purchase of lands being done by private individuals where they always seek for the lowest value of the properties to be bought that will be reflected in the deed of sale to evade payment of high taxes for the said transactions. By HENT

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