Some scam artists do not need new technology 

Many scams have been pulled off with the use of new technology. 

But there are people who do not need modern gimmickry to take money and/or property from its legitimate owners. Political power, exercised for self-interest and to satisfy one’s greed, appears to be still the most effective and cheapest way for people to get what they want. 

In Antipolo City, after reportedly ruling that a property was unfit for cultivation because of its sharp slope – and thus exempt from coverage of the land reform law – the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) allegedly reversed itself and awarded the land to “claimant farmers”, who declared they had been tilling the land for years. 

The property owners never had any tenants precisely because they could not grow anything on the land because it was sloping. The couple purchased the land when Antipolo was virtually only a pilgrim destination because of the Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje (Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage). 

With the land unsuitable for farming, they were waiting until Antipolo was more developed to find ways to make their investment worthwhile. The couple passed without coming up with an idea and their heirs still did not know what they would do with the property. 

But apparently a powerful Antipolo politician, who is reportedly running for a local position this year, saw its potential before the heirs did. She allegedly arranged for the “farmers” to petition DAR to award them the property, which the agency did with obscene haste. The real owners petitioned for a reversal of the order but, after acting with haste in putting the property under the coverage of the land reform law, DAR is reportedly taking its time handing down a decision. 

In the meantime, the politician and her associates have managed to have a new deed of ownership issued to them, even though the legitimate owners are in possession of the real title to the property and they have not been asked, much less notified, about the transfer of ownership.  

Much earlier, the politician allegedly opened the property, which she does not own and has not paid the owners even a peso for its use, to informal settlers. Now, after getting it covered under the land reform law, the politician has converted the property into a subdivision.  

The “farmer claimants” have all but disappeared. They probably won’t be able to afford a lot in the subdivision anyway. 

Adding injury to insult, the heirs were made to pay over one million pesos in back taxes only to find out that the title to their property had been given to someone else. And the developers now crow about the subdivision having a “clean title”. 

The legitimate owners are willing to transfer ownership to the politician but only IF they get paid a fair amount for the property. Sounds reasonable but will they get justice for the theft of their property when they are fighting a seemingly powerful local politician? Will government agencies remember that public service is a public trust? And will the local politician develop a conscience and see the error of her ways? 

Perhaps the aggrieved property owner should start praying to Antipolo’s patroness to help her resolve her problem. 

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