MANILA - The Sandiganbayan 5th Division has ordered the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to look into assets sequestered from Lianga Bay Logging Co Inc (LBLCI) in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, which are allegedly being distributed and sold by local government officials in the area.
The order of the anti-graft court was prompted by a motion of the Diatagon Labor Federation (DLF), which claimed that LBLCI still has properties “consisting of several hectares of land but were currently subdivided, distributed and/or sold by some local government officials in the area.”
DLF, which also told the court that they want to act as caretakers of the assets, added that some areas were already being occupied by informal settlers.
Businessman Peter Sabido and others are facing a civil case for reconveyance, reversion, accounting and damages in connection with the properties they supposedly acquired, including the Lianga assets, during the regime of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
“The plaintiff, in coordination with the movant DLF, is ordered to conduct an investigation and/or ocular inspection of the reported dissipation of named establishments located at the property of Lianga Bay located in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, immediately upon notice hereof,” the court said.
The resolution, promulgated January 3, was penned by Associate Justice Maryann Corpus-Mañalac, with the concurrence of Division Chairperson Rafael Lagos and Associate Justice Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega.
The court noted that the DLF submitted 18 documents referring to properties being sold or disposed by local officials, such as a residential lot in Barangay St. Christine.
In its comment, the PCGG said “it would be impossible” to conduct an inspection into the properties as DLF does not even mention the Certificate of Title and the exact location of the property involved.
The court, however, stressed that the Supreme Court declared in BASECO vs. PCGG that sequestration was defined as placing a property under the control of the PCGG for its preservation pending litigation.
“By doing so, the plaintiff would check on the veracity of the alleged unauthorized disposal of the assets instead of just sitting aback and closing its eyes to the report, given that the plaintiff is primarily responsible to know the status of the sequestered LBLCI assets in pursuance of its mandate to safeguard and preserve them,” the court said.
The court also required PCGG to submit a report within 30 days after its inspection.