No bail allowed in Aliping’s forest destruction case at Sandiganbayan

No bail may be allowed by the Sandiganbayanin the forest destruction case filed by the DENR against incumbent Baguio Representative Nicasio Aliping, Jr. and 3 contractors once their trial commences.

This was stated in a manifestation with motion addressed to Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Gerard Mosquera, concurrent environmental ombudsman, by the DENR-CAR dated April 27 “because of the non-stop development in the area claimed by Respondent Aliping, (who) even with the effectivity of a Temporary Environment Protection Order, blatantly, arrogantly, completely and crassly defied the said TEPO which was issued by members of the highest court of the land sitting en banc.”

In the TEPO issued by the Supreme Court, Aliping “and those acting for and in his behalf (were ordered) to cease and desist from performing acts to develop or enhance the property located at Mount Santo Tomas Forest Reserve which the said respondent claims to be his and/or his brother’s, which acts include improving the old building standing on the land, building any structure thereon, continuing with the road opening activities, concreting any part of the road, and for the said respondent to immediately take steps to mitigate the contamination of the Amliang dams due to the erosion emanating from his road opening activity.”

The DENR-CAR, after counting that 306 trees and 455 saplings were destroyed in the excavation of the 2.6-Km road leading to Aliping’s claimed property when discovered on April 15, 2014, valued the damages done there at over P10.3-milllion.

Further, despite Aliping’s claim that he has tax declarations covering his claimed property, the DENR-CAR disproved it when they disclosed that a “perusal of the records will reveal that Respondent Aliping has no tax declarations covering his alleged claim within Mount Santo Tomas Forest Reserve. The DENR maintains that records disclose that his claimed tax declarations identified as ARP Nos. 99-001-05853 and 99-001-05854 are not in his name, but in the names of Rosalie Leistner and the late Felimon Coyupan, respectively. Respondent Aliping likewise admitted that he purchased the property from a German couple, Andreas and Rosalie Leistner, and it is of public knowledge in Baguio City and Benguet Province that the German husband has been ordered arrested for violations of Republic Acts 9262 (Violence against Women and their Children) and 7610 (Child Abuse), (after being) believed to have sired 11 children by three Filipino women (who all lived in that same house located at Mount Santo Tomas, Tuba, Benguet). And while the German husband is now unaccounted for, some people, including Respondent Aliping, have been claiming ownership over his declared property. Respondent Aliping’s claim of the sale in his favor of the subject properties is noticeably and glaringly without proof of any documents evidencing the sale.”

“Simply put, those who cut, uproot, remove, collect, gather trees or forest products, and those who possess the timber or forest products without authority or legal documents, or those who will make unauthorized entry into any forest land become automatically liable of the acts punishable under Sections 77 and 78 of Presidential Decree 705 (or the Revised Forestry Code) regardless of the motive or purpose it was pursued,” the DENR-CAR stressed.

It may be recalled that a separate case was filed by the Baguio Water District against the same respondents for the turbidity of the Amliang Creek water sources, while another one was also filed before the Supreme Court by church leaders and concerned residents led by Bishop Carlito Cenzon of the Diocese of Baguio-Benguet and Archbishop Socrates Villegas of the Lingayen-Dagupan Diocese for the issuance of a TEPO and a Writ of Kalikasan.

It was also revealed in a letter to Mosquera dated April 11 this year that the case filed before the Ombudsman has been languishing in his office for many months now amid disturbing and serious allegations that Aliping bribed him with no less than P500,000 for the former to forestall its resolution. This was belied by Mosquera in his letter to this paper stating that he does not have an account with the bank with which the amount was allegedly deposited.

“Finally, DENR would like to reiterate the matter on the damages suffered by the government by reason of the acts of Respondent Aliping … is certainly not a paltry amount which must be given due consideration in the recommendation of bail. In fact, the amount of P10 million is inclusive only of the damage by reason of the loss of the trees. This amount, huge as it is already, does not even cover the damage and injury caused to the Baguio Water District given the contamination of the water system of Baguio City and the nearby municipalities because of the soil erosion caused by the destruction of the trees. There is also the damage to government capital assets which have not yet been fully accounted for. As such, the offense should be non-bailable,” it added.

If found guilty, Aliping may be sentenced to a maximum penalty for forest destruction and will be banned from holding public office for life./The Junction News Team


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