GenSan to probe selling of gov’t-owned land to informal settlers

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GENERAL SANTOS CITY — The city government is pushing for a comprehensive investigation into the operations of alleged “squatting syndicates” in the area.

Mary Ann Bacar, head of the City Housing and Land Management Office (CHLMO), said Monday they have asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into the activities of some groups who were reportedly behind the proliferation of squatters in parts of the city.

She said these groups have been mainly selling government-owned lands to residents and informal settlers.

Citing reports received by their office, she said there were some “unscrupulous individuals” who were offering portions of the public lands in Barangay Apopong to as high as PHP18,000 per square meter.

Members of the syndicates have already duped a number of supposed buyers from the city and the neighboring areas, she said.

“We’ve been talking with the NBI about this and we expect the probe to start next year,” she said in an interview with reporters at the city hall.

In the past years, CHLMO uncovered the same activities involving public lands in the city that were being claimed by indigenous peoples’ families, specifically from the B’aan tribe, as ancestral domain.

Some of these lands are located in barangays Tambler, Bawing, Fatima, Sinawal and Apopong.

The claimed lands have encroached areas that were covered with pasture-lease agreements with the national government.

As part of the “modus,” the syndicates sell the supposed rights to potential buyers, with the promise that proper land titles are already being processed.

“Their activities are quite extensive already, even reaching to other areas, and they’re putting the city in bad light,” she said. –PNA

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