In Resolution 446, Rep. Rodante Marcoleta of the party-list group Alagad said aside from the illegal transfer and violation of the CARP law, the House should also look into the angle of possible tax evasion on the part of the buyers of the high-end property known as Lakeshore Subdivision owned by Central Country Estate, Inc. (CCEI) along the North Luzon Expressway in Mexico.
But Nestor Mangio, CCEI chairman, debunked the allegations which he blamed on one Luisito Hipolito who, he recalled, had at one time already filed a collection case against CCEI alleging that the estate owed him commissions from a failed joint venture between CCEI and Sta Lucia Realty.
Mangio is also the chairman of the Clark International Airport Corp. which runs the aviation complex where the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport is located at Clark Freeport.
“But the Regional Trial Court, after protracted hearing, dismissed the case for failure to state a cause of action. That was in August 2006 and a certificate of finality of the decision had long been issued by said court, “Mangio recalled.
“The allegations that CCEI had illegally acquired and converted 48.6 hectares properties of farmers are old and stale allegations,” said Edel Morales, CCEI vice president for administration.
Marcoleta said the government, through the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), had awarded rice and sugar cane lands in Mexico near the town’s border with San Fernando to farmer-beneficiaries, who were issued Certificate of Land Ownership Award or CLOA.
A CLOA serves as the title of an agrarian reform beneficiary to the land or lot the government has awarded to him. It replaced the emancipation patent, which the government issued up to the time of the late President Corazon Aquino.
Marcoleta said two years after the Mexico farmers received their CLOAs from DAR, employees and sales agents of businessman Nestor Mangio bought the lands from the beneficiaries in violation of the CARP law.
“Section 27 of Republic Act 6657, or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Act of 1988, expressly provides that lands acquired by farmer-beneficiaries may not be sold, transferred or conveyed, except through hereditary succession, or to the government or to the Land Bank of the Philippines or to other qualified beneficiaries for a period of 10 years,” he said.
He said Mangio, through CCEI, which the businessman formed with some Chinese partners based in Binondo, Manila, acquired ownership and possession of the CARP-covered lands.
Subsequently, the lands were transferred to another Mangio corporation, Nobleman Properties, Inc., he added.
Marcoleta pointed out that the conveyance of the properties from one Mangio company to another “effectively hid the illegal cancellation of the CLOA titles without paying the necessary capital gains tax and documentary stamps tax to the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the transfer tax in the treasurer’s office of Mexico and registration fees in the Registry of Deeds in San Fernando.”
He estimated that the two real estate firms should have paid at least P700 million in various taxes and local fees.
The two companies have reportedly transformed the lands near the North Luzon Expressway in Mexico town into the high-end Lakeshore subdivision.
Mangio was close to former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who had appointed him chairman of Clark International Airport Corp.
He reportedly still clings to his post, though he is supposed to be covered by President Aquino’s executive order voiding the former president’s “midnight” appointments.
But Morales recalled that almost simultaneously with the filing of a court case on his alleged dues in 2006, Hipolito also filed a case against CCEI with the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) alleging unsound business practice and violation of the agrarian reform law.
“After due hearing and submission of evidence, HLURB also dismissed the case for lack of cause of action and for forum shopping. HLURB even awarded CCEI damages against Hipolito in the amount of P 350,000.00. This was in January 2008,” Morales noted.
“Next, Hipolito filed a complaint against CCEI with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) alleging illegal conversion. After several hearings and filing of position papers, DAR likewise dismissed the case in December 2008, while affirming that department’s earlier conversion order in favor of Lakeshore,” Morales also said.
Morales said “a disturbing note about the claim of Hipolito that the acquisition by Lakeshore of some of its properties was illegal is that it was Hipolito himself who helped CCEI obtain the legal conversion of those properties, and was paid millions of pesos. It was really his own actuations that he was in effect questioning.”
“Not satisfied with the dismissal of his case by the DAR, Hipolito questioned the same in the Court of Appeals. But unfortunately for him, the Court of Appeals 8th division, after studying the case, also dismissed it in March 2009. Hipolito’s motion for reconsideration was similarly denied by said Court of Appeals in January 2010,” he also said.
Morales also noted that “still not satisfied, Hipolito filed a petition for review before the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court. But the Highest Tribunal did not agree with Hipolito’s claims and DENIED his petition for review in March 2010.”
“All told, the RTC, the HLURB, the DAR, the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court had been involved in passing upon the claims of Hipolito against CCEI. He lost them all,” he said.
Morales said that the Joint Venture between CCEI and Sta Lucia Realty never was consummated, and even assuming it was consummated, Hipolito signed an agreement to get whatever commissions he might have had in the joint venture from Sta Lucia Realty.