Rough Cuts | Reminiscent of the P8-B right-of-way scam

The best advice I have ever heard that newly recrowned welterweight World Boxing Association (WBA) champion Sen. Manny Pacquiao is the one that came from the Pacman’s fellow senator Ping Lacson.

Like President Rodrigo Duterte who told Pacquiao that he should now hang up his gloves, Lacson added one very compelling reason why Pacman should already retire. Pacman’s 7th round technical knockout win over then reigning WBA welterweight king Argentinian Lucas Matthysse last Sunday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was received with jubilation by Filipinos all over the country and the world. Boxing fans worldwide were also agog with the win of the 39-year old boxing future Hall of Famer.
Lacson’s advice to his seatmate in the Senate Hall is as simple and as compelling as this:
“Pacquiao should now retire while his various audiences are still clapping their hands while he is on the stage.”
If the Pacman cannot read that then his claim that his fight are “for God, country and the Filipino people” is all but empty rhetoric. Any plan by the senator to climb the ring again, especially if the purse is in millions of dollars, would make the fighting senator from Sarangani Province just like his former nemesis, Floyd“Money” Mayweather. His next fight would be nothing but all about money and personal glory; honor to the country would only be secondary.
Of course we can see that Senator Pacquiao is not a believer in the dictum that one cannot be in “two places at one time.” We believe that he might be thinking that he is an exception to that rule because he’s been in the public service and in the sports arenas.
But how long will it be if he would continue to aspire for big prize money camouflaged as campaign to bring honor and glory to the country? We are dead sure it would not be long. It could even come much earlier than expected.
The Pacman and all those who are cordoning him off and giving him advice to continue prize fighting hoping that they get something out of it, should better be reminded of this saying, “Greed is the root of all evils.” The senator knows that as well. He’s “been there, done that.”
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We have taken this up in a previous column a few weeks back. We thought this issue has already reached the attention of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with the latter having validated the item.
We mean the information given to us by some sources who are owners of land and development in areas affected by road widening projects of the government in Davao City. According to these sources of ours, until now some of the property owners, they included, have not agreed to the amount offered for payment by the government on their property. The reason they gave is that it is too low compared to the value of their property, and that whatever they will get out of it without haggling will not suffice to reconstruct their destroyed residential or commercial structures.
But according to these sources, there were people claiming to have connections with the government, specifically the DPWH, who offered to advance them the payment using the valuation of the government. In exchange, according to our sources, they (property owners) execute a Special Power of Attorney (SPA) for them to work out with the DPWH the payment of their property. They told the property owners, our sources added, that as requirements in addition to the SPA, the property owners affected entrust to them certified true copies of the land title, tax declaration certificates and real property tax payment receipts.
A quick assessment of such offer may make it appear beneficial to the property owners. This is because government is known to be one if not the most notorious in delaying payments of transactions especially when it is the one making the payment and the amount involved is huge.
But personally we realized that this could be one strategy by some enterprising individuals to make easy money in collaboration with some scrupulous officials at the DPWH. Our suspicion is based on what happened in a major road project in General Santos City undertaken during the previous administration.
Several officials of the DPWH, the Bureau of Lands, and some private individuals are now facing graft and corruption cases in the Ombudsman after it was established that some P8 billion were paid to people for road-right-of-ways on non-existent lands or lands that were claimed to be traversed by the highway but in actuality far from the road.
With the surfacing of the report brought to our attention by some property owners affected by road widening project, we suspect that the scheme is a modification of the multi-billion General Santos right-of-way scam.
Wonder if these talks have not filtered into the DPWH office. Or are people in that agency of government simply made deft for “sum” reasons?

Posted in Opinion