Capitol told: Be ‘fair’ to farmers; Airport expansion scandal bared
NAGA CITY --- Officials of the Camarines Sur provincial government are reportedly forcibly buying the properties surrounding the Naga Airport at a pittance and plans to sell or expropriate them to the Department of Transportation for a whopping P402M under the airport’s expansion project. Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. (2nd District) bared that the Villafuertes, particularly CamSur Governor Migz Villafuerte and father Rep. LRay Villafuerte (1st District), are buying the properties from mostly farmers and landowners, at times forcibly, at a measly rate of P8 per square meter. The Naga Airport Development Project would need around 1.332 million square meters in additional area, which is why the government would have to buy surrounding properties in order to move forward. “So do the math and tell us: at P8 per square meter, the area needed would cost the Villafuerte’s only around P10.6 million. But the money allocated for expropriation is P402 million. That’s a whopping return on investment at 3,900 percent!” the lawmaker stated. “This is not only a case of repulsive conflict-of-interest, but also a reprehensible breakdown of morality on the part of the Villafuertes. They are sworn public servants who should protect and safeguard the interests of the people. They should not take advantage of their political mandate. At the very least, they should afford these farmers just compensation.” According to the Memorandum of Agreement signed in 2016 by the DoTR, represented by Sec. Arthur Tugade, and the Camarines Sur provincial government, represented by Gov. Villafuerte, the amount of P200 million of the expropriation budget will be released upon the signing of the agreement. Another P120 million will be released upon liquidation of the previous amount, and then another P82 million upon liquidation of both amounts. “Sobra namang nilulugi ang ating mga magsasaka sa presyong P8 kada square meter. Dapat maging patas tayo sa kanila lalo na na ito lamang kapirasong lupa ang kanilang ikinabubuhay,” Andaya said. “Dito nila kinukuha ang kanilang kinakain, ibinibili ng damit, pampagawa ng bahay, pati na rin ang pam-paaral at pampa-ospital ng kanilang pamilya. Kung sapilitan mong kukunin sa kanila yan, eh dapat bigyan mo sila ng sapat na kapalit.” The controversy has even reached social media the past few days showing the provincial government dumping dirt and sand in the middle of a road in a sitio in Pili. The farmers reportedly refused to sell their lands. On the legal front, the provincial goverment, through Gov. Villafuerte, has been filing expropriation cases against those who refuse to recognize right-of-way proceedings. But efforts of the provincial government hit a snag when the presiding judge in RTC Branch 32 ruled last February that the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) should be the ones filing the expropriation cases. Even the OSG, when asked to comment by the court, agreed that it is their office who should do what the provincial government is doing. “Just compensation is a concept or right afforded to landowners when property is taken from them. The provincial government should be taught on that as they force farmers to sell what may very well be amount to their life’s work,” Andaya noted. “Hindi namamalimos ang mga kapwa natin taga-Bicolandia, pero ang halagang ibinibigay sa kanila ay katumbas ng limos. Ibigay sana natin kung ano ang nararapat sa kanila.” From Press Release Office of Rep. Nonoy Andaya Jr.