Efforts to have 92 has. of Silot Bay reverted to public domain thwarted-A A +A
Thursday, February 6, 2014
THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 has long accepted the Supreme Court (SC) ruling that granted the Mendoza family the right to own 92 hectares of the 500-hectare Silot Bay in Liloan.
DENR 7 Regional Executive Director Isabelo Montejo Jr. said the property of the Mendozas was underwater but in 1969, the family applied for a fishpond lease for the area.
Then President Marcos issued a memorandum that all fishponds are subject to land titling in relation to the food production program of his administration.
As a result, land titles of the 92-hectare fishpond were issued in 1974 in the name of lawyer Democrito Mendoza (founder of the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines), Gwendolyn C. Mendoza, Vilma C. Mendoza and Democrito C. Mendoza Jr.
Montejo said that in 1988, DENR 7 filed a case for reversion of the property to the government. The Regional Trial Court (RTC) ruled that the area be reverted to public domain.
But the Court of Appeals (CA) reversed the RTC decision, citing the memorandum of then President Marcos.
The CA also noted that it took the DENR 7 16 years to file the reversion.
Montejo said the DENR through the Office of the Solicitor General filed an appeal before the SC but the High Tribunal affirmed the CA decision so the titles of the properties issued to the Mendozas became permanent and legal.
“The DENR has tried its best to get back the property from the Mendozas. But because the Supreme Court has already decided in favor of the Mendozas, we have to respect it,” Montejo said.
He said there is nothing the government if the Mendozas will not allow people to pass through their property.
Montejo assured that the DENR will investigate if the Mendozas have encroached on the remaining areas of public domain.
He said a team led by Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer Roldan Cotejo will verify areas within Silot Bay that remain under public domain.
DENR Regional Technical Director Eduardo Inting is also conducting a preliminary investigation on Silot Bay, Montejo said.
“The investigation will be completed in two weeks,” he said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 06, 2014.