Pangasinan government almost lost Urduja House lot
- Eva Visperas () - February 22, 2003 - 12:00am
LINGAYEN, Pangasinan — The provincial government almost lost the property on which stands the Urduja House, official residence of the provincial governor that was named after the legendary amazon Princess Urduja, after a couple claimed ownership of the lot.

Engineer Alvin Bigay, housing and homesite regulation officer of the Pangasinan Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Office, told The STAR that the provincial government discovered the claim only after about 60 families of illegal settlers, including the claimants, who have occupied the beachfront at the back of the provincial capitol compound, refused to vacate the area.

A fact-finding team sent by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to probe the claim found out that the couple, Amador and Aurora de Guzman, began their possession of the land in 1976.

The De Guzmans had the land surveyed by a geodetic engineer and had it approved by the assistant regional executive director for operations and surveys of the DENR in La Union.

Records show that the De Guzmans paid P7,000 in fees to a certain Evelyn Deata Cruz, a former contractual employee of the DENR’s La Union office.

The approved survey plan showed that the area which the De Guzmans were claiming, totaling 1,065 square meters, had the same reference point of the provincial government lot and thus, overlapped with the government property on where the Urduja House was built.

"Why was this survey plan approved when the lot in question is inside the provincial property?" Bigay asked in Filipino.

Ownership of the land in question was settled when the Court of Appeals ruled that the settlers had unlawfully possessed a property titled to the province.

About seven families, including the De Guzmans, however, have remained adamant to the government’s offer to relocate them to Pangapisan Norte.

Instead, they filed three cases against Bigay with the Office of the Ombudsman for alleged abuse of authority, grave misconduct and violation of Republic Act 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act. The cases, however, were dismissed.

AMADOR AND AURORA BIGAY COURT OF APPEALS DE GUZMANS DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES ENGINEER ALVIN BIGAY EVELYN DEATA CRUZ LA UNION OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN PANGAPISAN NORTE URDUJA HOUSE
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