Integrity of land titles/What Keto is all about

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - May 22, 2018 - 12:00am

First, there is fake news. Now, there are fake land titles. 

On the fake titles and right-of-way scam, I am glad that my columnist colleague, also in this paper, fired the opening salvo against this “grand conspiracy,” which is the hot topic in my column today.

Both our columns are close on the heels of my favorite senator’s vow to “unmask the perpetrators” of this scheme that has already defrauded our government of billions of pesos.

Fraudulent torrens titles covering pieces of real estate property are actually not new. There have been many “saksak-bunot” cases that have bedevilled the country’s custodian of land titles – the Land Registration Authority (LRA).

In the not so distant past, this column had lauded the measures taken by LRA – like computerization – as steps in the right direction. And we commended the ranking LRA officials for their sincere desire to preserve the integrity of every land title.

That’s why I am saddened by the bad news that some LRA officials are allegedly part of a grand conspiracy to defraud government of billions of pesos in the form of payments for right-of-way claims.

At the May 15 hearing of the Blue Ribbon Committee in the Philippine Senate, Chairman Richard Gordon spent precious time in exposing the modus operandi in making billions of pesos from fake land titles offered for right-of-way needs of government’s infrastructure building programs. This modus is coordinated among the LRA, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the local judiciary, and businessmen who bankroll the graft-driven operations.

Gordon disclosed in this recent public hearing that, in General Santos alone, 167 folders of road right-of-way (ROW) claims have already cost the government P5.6 billion.

For example, he cited the case of a land title which covers only 90 square meters but was later misrepresented as a 25,000 sq. m. property. The senator also questioned an 8,000 sq. m. piece of property. which was passed off as a 27,713 square meters piece of land! He was shocked to know that government paid a staggering P255.55 million for it. 

At the hearing, he took to task a “Chief” at LRA, who issues certifications on the authenticity of land titles. On the strength of such certifications, the DPWH releases budgets amounting to billions of pesos for right-of-way acquisition payments. Expectedly, the official denied wrongdoing.

Not to be misled so easily by facile denials, Blue Ribbon Chairman Gordon noted contradictions and inconsistencies from the testimonies, and warned the officials of imprisonment for their involvement in the shady deals.

The senator declared: “This is a whole syndicate involving the LRA, the DPWH, the local registers of deeds that go all the way up.” He warned that he would file plunder cases against government officials involved in this wholesale graft and corruption.

We are happy to know of his firm resolve to clean up the LRA. “What will we do now with LRA? It is fooling everyone in the country, and destroying the integrity of land titles?” When the senator added that he would ask President Duterte to overhaul the entire LRA, I found myself applauding!

I have my reasons for supporting a cleaner and more honest LRA. I know some folks at LRA, from ranking officials to those in field offices who still possess the rare quality of integrity – the same integrity we want in our land titles. Let the bad eggs go, but retain the honest ones, who after all make up the majority.

In the next hearings, Chairman Dick Gordon and his team may stumble upon an earlier big fake land title mess in Mindanao. I am referring to the 707-hectare property beside the General Santos Airport.

This is government property, leased to Aldevinco under the Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA). Suddenly this piece of land became the “private property” of members of a family, courtesy of “fabricated” land titles. 

Much of this government property has already been subdivided into parcels of land, then bought by a high profile businessman based in Manila. This businessman, in turn, is reportedly offering the land parcels for sale to unsuspecting would-be buyers.

The government should have stopped these fraudulent transactions outright – but local executives, judges, and even high ranking officials in LRA and in Malacanang Palace – turned around and conferred “authenticity” to the fraudelent and sordid process.

The supreme irony is when these pieces of land will be offered for the government’s right-of-way requirements particularly for its “Build Build Build” Program, government pays the bogus ROW claimants. If that happens, government would be a victim twice over!

Those present at the Senate hearing last week were impressed by the detailed investigation and compelling logic of Senator Gordon.

His mastery of details and uncanny ability to spot even a carefully contrived story have sent shivers up the spine of witnesses who are hiding vital information.

Senator Dick Gordon was clear and unequivocal with his objective: “We must protect the integrity of every land title in this country.” Yes, otherwise, what else can we believe to be true?

Well-meaning landowners will surely back our superhero in the Senate. His success will be our success!  

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Ever heard of the Keto diet? It’s the latest in a field of health benefits, it is said to be “taking the nutrition world by storm.” The only thing most of us believe, is that it consists of eating all the fatty foods you want, but please, no carb –no rice, no bread – and you end up losing inches around your waist and looking good.

A Keto diet, according to its creators/advocates, is a low carb diet, where the body produces ketones in the liver to be used as energy. It’s referred to as ketogenic diet, low carb diet, low carb, high fat.

The end goal of a properly maintained keto diet is to force your body into this metabolic state, says a Keto specialist. “We don’t do this through starvation of calories but starvation of carbohydrates.”

To properly inform people about the benefits of the Keto diet, Zonito Torrevillas–Tamase, owner of Keto Zone and a healthy lifestyle advocate, organized the Low-Carb Class 101, a course covering everything one needs to know and do everything the right way.

“If you are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and interested in the Keto diet but are unsure as to where to start, also if you are tired of not understanding the why’s and how’s of low carb & Keto, there is no better way to learn but from people who actually walk the walk and talk the talk,” says Torrevillas-Tamase.

“This class is perfect for people who want to approach the Ketogenic diet in a context-dependent manner. We will make sure to teach everyone the wholistic approach to natural detoxification and even provide live application,” enthuses Dr. Beth Micaller, of Philippine Institute of Naturopathic Sciences and one of the key note speakers.

The one-day class will be held June 2, a Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Unit 404 Richbelt Towers, 17 Annapolis St., San Juan, Metro Manila. Sign up fee is P2,500. To reserve a slot, call 0917 7982887.

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Email: dominitorrevillas@gmail.com.

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