Statement of Justice Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre II on the discovery of an alleged criminal syndicate involved in the Php 8.7 billion Right of Way Scam during the Aquino Administration

24 November 2017

There is no place for corruption in the government. President Rodrigo Duterte has made it very clear that stopping corruption in government is the centerpiece of his administration.

Corruption must stop!

Not only will it stop, but with the full force of our laws, those who are responsible for raiding and plundering the public treasury will be brought to justice.

We reiterate the DOJ’s solemn commitment to supporting the President’s directive.

To borrow the President’s term, we will be relentless!

                   - Justice Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre II

Earlier this week, on November 20, 2017, to be specific, the National Bureau of Investigation informed me that they have a witness who is personally involved in a criminal syndicate  which was purportedly involved in defrauding our government of around Php 8.7 billion from a road right of way (RROW) scam in General Santos City.

Based on the initial reports submitted to me by the NBI, this criminal syndicate purportedly submitted fake titles in the name of non-existent persons to allow them to claim from the Department of Public Works and Highways the just compensation from the expropriation of land which will be supposedly occupied by government projects.

The modus operandi of this syndicate is that it claims for “just compensation” of road right of way which are intended for rightful owners who were affected by national highway construction at General Santos City.

The members of the syndicate would submit fake title would be in the name of non-existent persons or not real land owners. The syndicate would then secure payment using fake land titles.

We have information that one claim for “just compensation” amounts to Php 29 million pesos.  

From 2009 when the syndicate started to operate, the members of this syndicate were able to process more than 300 folders containing fake road-right-of-way amounting to more or less Php 8.7 billion.

Some of the persons named by our witness as being involved is a Wilma Mamburam, Col. Chino Mamburan, Merceditas Dumlao and Nelson Ti. Our witness further revealed that Mr. Nelso Ti, the financier of the group is a close relative of Domingo Lee, Philippine Envoy to China, and is supposedly close to former President Benigno Aquino III.

I was also informed that for the syndicate to accomplish these apparently criminal acts, several public officials from the Department of Public Works and Highways, Bureau of Internal Revenue, the City Assessor’s Office of General Santos, the Registry of Deeds, the Commission on Audit and the Regional Trial Courts have been identified by the said witness as having participated in the processing, approval and eventual release of payments to cover these dubious claims.

Consequently, I have instructed the NBI to continue its case build-up in order to further strengthen the case which most likely will include several high ranking officials of the Aquino administration.

Based on their signatures in the documents submitted to the NBI and on the sinumpaang salaysay of our witness, some high ranking officials of the previous administration may have potential liabilities like former DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson who apparently approved and requested the release of payment of fake RROW claims.

Former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad who apparently approved the release of payment for illegal RROW claims as requested by DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson may also face potential criminal liability.    

Likewise, I have ordered the provisional admission of the witness I was referring to our Witness Protection Program for his protection and security.

In addition, I am taking this opportunity to invite all other persons who have personal knowledge of this  scam to come forward and to communicate what they know  to help us further solidify the case that we will file. If you are listening, we give you our solemn reassurance that we shall treat your information and identity with utmost confidentiality and we will place you under our Witness Protection Program.

Let us all join hands to wage this war against corruption.

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