By Manilyn Ugalde
LEGAZPI CITY, June 3 (PNA) -– A physician-couple who filed a graft complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against a councilor, a municipal assessor and an executive of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has also asked the government to investigate scandalous cases of loss of portions of land in the town of Polangui in Albay, saying their unearthed case could only be the pandora’s box.
Husband-and-wife physicians Artemio and Mary Jean Tuanqui-Averion made the appeal to the government after they complained against the three mentioned official.
Former mayor for 20 years Rafael Lo joined the couple, saying Polangui landowners are very much disturbed by how their land properties have been drastically reduced in size with new claimants showing tax declarations from the assessor’s office.
Barangay chairman Rodolfo Tuanqui of Barangay Napo said his constituents have complained to him how their real properties have been reduced in sizes and with resurveys initiated by the municipal government.
Land owners, Tuanqui said, complained they could not just easily get records of tax declaration at the municipal assessor’s office.
On March 20, the Averion couple file the graft complaint against municipal assessor Jun Sarte Nieves, Councilor Edgar Arbo, and Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) head Santiago Olfindo for falsifying the documents of a 1,077- square-meter lot which formed part of the 4.5-hectare commercial land owned by Mary Jean’s late mother Estrella Tuanqui.
The questioned lot was reportedly sold to businessman Elmer Catangui.
Nieves, Arbo, Arbo’s wife Jinna and father Ramon Arbo had earlier been charged before the prosecutor’s office for falsification of documents involving the 1,077-square-meter parcel of land.
The Averions lamented that the prosecutor dismissed the case against Nieves, Arbo and his wife Jinna, and had Ramon Arbo alone charged before the municipal trial court.
The complainants said their lawyer, for unknown reason, failed to file a motion for reconsideration.
The forged documents, according to the complaint, claimed that Estrella Tuanqui sold the property to one Felipe Portem who issued a deed of absolute sale to Ramon Arbo, who, in turn, was then issued a tax declaration ownership by Nieves using affidavit and waiver of rights allegedly issued by Tuanqui’s heir Mary Jean.
The forged affidavit and waiver of rights, both dated Nov. 10, 2012, bore the name and signature of Mary Jane Tuanqui Averion when the correct spelling is Mary Jean Tuanqui-Averion, the complaint said, adding that the waiver of rights was witnessed no less than by Nieves.
The affidavit and waiver of rights were notarized by lawyer Janero Saclag, a councilor of Libon town.
In his judicial statement during the hearing at the MTC, Saclag said it was councilor Arbo and his wife Jinna who brought to him the affidavit and waiver of rights allegedly signed by complainant Mary Jean.
In the complaint filed before the Ombudsman, Olfindo has been directly implicated after his investigation report supporting the transfer of property from Tuanqui to Portem then to Ramon Arbo.
In his statement to the court, Nieves said his basis in the issuance of the tax declaration to Arbo was Olfindo’s investigation report dated Nov. 26, 2012.
Olfindo, however, said his investigation report cannot be used as basis for Nieves to issue tax declaration to Arbo because it was not official to his office, saying his requested documents from Arbo had not been complied to merit the investigation.
Averion said that for unknown reason under Nieves’ term as assessor, her mother’s property had been reduced from 4.5 hectare to barely 8,000 square meters.
The complainant said that when they discovered their case, it was recorrected by a former DENR technical regional director, however, minus the 1,077-square-meter lot which is already in the name of Arbo.
Former Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Marcial Tuanqui said authorities should look into the widespread land ownership scam in Polangui.
He said one landowner with an eight-hectare lot learned that his property was suddenly reduced to two hectares while another owner with a seven-hectare land found it was chopped to three hectares.
Tuanqui said Nieves was once known as Manuel Sarte Nieves until his return from the United States of America where he worked as nurse and had his name changed to Jun Sarte Nieves. (PNA)