MANILA – Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes on Tuesday said that the court may order the forfeiture of the controversial Rosario, Batangas estate being linked to Vice President Jejomar Binay if there will be proof about the property being prematurely turned into a residential or commercial land from an agricultural land.
Delos Reyes said that DAR is already coordinating with the Register Deeds of Batangas to chec whether the transfers of titles have been carried out for the land supposedly owned by Sunchamp Real Estate Development Corp.
”These land holdings now are subject of verification with the Register of Deeds because DAR is not the keeper of records when land is transferred,” he said.
Sunchamp is under the possession of Antonio Tiu, who is accused of being Binay’s dummy. Tiu, however, denied the allegations saying that the land was purchased from Laureano Gregorio.
Tiu said that he is developing the property to become an agri-tourism destination.
According to delos Reyes, the land of Tiu may have been covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). If that’s the case, the conversion or sale of the land without permission from DAR is not allowed by the law.
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said that DAR does not have any records of Gregorio being a landowner. Under the law, farmer-beneficiaries are allowed to sell the land after 10 years and once the original owner has been paid.
Thus, any sale of land originally part of the government’s land reform program should be allowed by DAR given that they need to provide a Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) or Emancipation Patent (EP) before another person can own the land.
Moreover, the buyer will not be allowed to receive more than five hectares of land.