DAGUPAN CITY -- Mayor Belen Fernandez vowed to run after those ex-City Government officials responsible for the irregular purchase of a 30-hectare land in Barangay Awai in San Jacinto town and hopefully recover the P16 million paid by the city for the land.

Fernandez bared this when she turned over the core shelter project built by the City Government and the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Sitio Korea, Bonuan Binloc for 30 scavengers and their families who have long been living in the city dumpsite.

The mayor said although the city paid for the 30-hectare land in full, there was no document to show that it was conveyed to the City Government by the vendor of the property.

The controversial sale took place in 2004 during the administration of former Dagupan Mayor Benjamin Lim. The land was purportedly to be used as site of Dagupan's sanitary landfill, which did not materialize though as the land was never turned over to the city after it was paid.

It was found out that when the land was sold to the city, it was already the subject of litigation before the Department of Agrarian Reform Arbitration Board and after the sale was consummated, the City Government was included among the respondents.

It was learned that the city lost its case by default, prompting the Department of Agrarian Reform to turn over the land to its tenants who filed the Agrarian case originally against the legal heirs of the real owner of the property, and later against the Dagupan City Government.

Fernandez said if the city can no longer get back the 30-hectare land that it bought in 2004, it might as well recover the P16 million it paid to the vendor of the property who shortchanged the City Government by withholding information that it is already the subject of agrarian case filed by the tenants against their landlord.

The mayor said the Commission on Audit has issued an Audit Memorandum with regards to the Awai property when he noticed that although the land was already paid in full, no title was delivered to the city up to now.

“I will be consulting our legal officer on this matter as the land purchased under the past city administration was never turned over to the city,” she said.

The sanitary landfill planned by Dagupan was opposed by the people of San Jacinto. (PNA)