By U.S. News Agency / Asian
The Philippine Army (PA) said Thursday it has won two legal cases against informal settlers at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) in Taguig City.
This developed after the Pasig City Regional Trial Court Branch 153 denied the appeal filed by Erlinda Belaya, an accused informal settler at LNMB.
Belaya belongs to Katipunan group, found guilty by the Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 74 of Taguig City for violating Sections 27 and 44 in relation to Section 45 of Republic Act 7279 (An Act to Provide for a Comprehensive and Continuing Urban Development and Housing Program).
The accused, Belaya, in her petition contends that the Metropolitan Trial Court erred in ruling that she is guilty of committing the offense charged in the information, arguing that there was no proof tendered by the prosecution to establish that she earns sufficient income for legitimate housing.
To refute the claim of Belaya, the prosecution filed its brief showing two additional photographs of Belaya’s house and store at Sitio Katipunan, LNMB, Western Bicutan, Taguig City.
Belaya presented a Certification dated September 3, 2010 from the AFP Finance Center showing that 2Lt Romeo Belaya, appellant’s husband, was paid a lump sum of P922,541 upon his retirement on November 3, 2008 and will start to receive his monthly pension on November 16, 2012.
It was earlier established by evidence and by the testimonies of witnesses that Belaya occupied the land which is classified as a National Shrine – LNMB without the approval of the Department of National Defense (DND) and Philippine Army Task Group Bantay.
Despite several verbal warnings and demands, Belaya continued with the construction of the houses and a store on the land and continued to reside thereat. The court also found that Belaya has the capability and capacity for legitimate housing.
In another case, spouses Oscar and Lourdes Tahan were also found guilty of violating Republic Act 7279 last 26 January 2011 by MTC 74. The said spouses thereafter applied for probation.
Col. Marcial o Constante Jr., commander of Task Group Bantay, stressed that the LNMB is a National Shrine as proclaimed by Presidential Proclamation 208 series of 1967 and is not subject to alienation and disposition as certified by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
He stated further that the proclaimed land has a consolidation-subdivision plan approved by DENR-National Capital Region (NCR) Land Management Services.
The Philippine Army Task Group Bantay hopes that with this new development on squat cases, the informal settlers will vacate the LNMB.
May the court decisions be enough for the informal settlers to understand the difficult consequences of their continued illegal occupation.
The Philippine Army Task Group Bantay (PATGB) repeatedly and consistently conducted dialogue with the informal settlers to translate the layman terms of the factual information in order to convince them to vacate the LNMB peacefully.