MISAMIS Oriental 1st district Representative Peter Unabia is set to answer the charges filed by a couple from Indahag, Cagayan de Oro City, before the Office of the Ombudsman over the issue of “land grabbing.”
Unabia's camp received the Ombudsman's decision on Monday, September 11, which orders him to answer accusations of couple Edward and Raida Layagon for allegedly grabbing and fencing the property they claimed.
"We will file our counter-affidavit anytime this week," lawyer Dale Mordeno, Unabia's legal counsel, said.
In a press briefing, Mordeno clarified that the issue arose from the ownership of Unabia over a parcel of land in Indahag which is now developed into a tourist destination, and has nothing to do with his official functions as a lawmaker.
Mordeno said the congressman denied the allegations of land grabbing, illegal fencing, threat, saying these were all “unfounded and baseless.”
"These are the things that we categorically denied. He was implicated in the complaints by association because of the apparent works now going on in the area," Mordeno said.
Mordeno said the transactions of the disputed property had long been entered by Unabia even before he became a public official.
Unabia's legal counsel and the Indahag village officials, who were also implicated in the case, showed to the media copies of land titles, permits, certifications, clearances and other pertinent documents to prove that the complainants have already no hold over a portion of lot they insist to claim.
The village officials said the Layagons don’t even have a single evidence to support their claims.
The property alluded to in the ombudsman order is a piece of land containing an area of 3.943 hectares and covered by “Orihinal na Titulo Blg. P-5117” issued by the Register of Deeds on March 1, 2004 in the name of Unabia, who was then a private citizen.
Mordeno said the complainants launched a protest before the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-Cenro) questioning the issuance of the title.
But, the DENR dismissed the Layagons’ protest in 2014.
"Nahimo gyud ning controversial because the Layagons did not stop seeking remedies despite the fact nga wala nay nahimo ang ilang protest kay lagi ang yuta naa naman titulo unya dili nana pwede ipa-cancel sa DENR," Mordeno said.
Mordeno said the complainants were afforded ample opportunity by the DENR to file appropriate land application of their own but they opted to waive and ceded their claims over the land in favor of the adjoining owners and title holders.
Mordeno added several agreements were made whereby complainants withdrew and waived their claims in favor of the adjoining owners amounting to over P3 million in 2015 and 2016.
"As you can see kapila na naghatag og kwarta si Cong kay dili siya gusto og samok karon kay bisan unsa na lang allegations I think this is below the belt. I don't know if the congressman is level headed enough to accommodate should the complainants come up with a settlement," Mordeno said.
"The allegations are hearsay for utter lack of personal knowledge. We have a very good grounds to exculpate the congressman in this case," Mordeno added.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 14, 2017.