MANILA (Mabuhay) – Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes on Thursday faced a Senate panel seeking to unmask the real owner of a sprawling farm estate in Batangas province being linked to Vice President Jejomar Binay.
In the continuation of the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee hearing on corruption allegations being linked to Binay, Delos Reys said businessman Antonio Tiu had told him that he was just leasing the farm estate in Rosario town contrary to his claim that he is its owner.
“He said he leased it, he did not own it,” Delos Reyes told senators, adding the conversation happened during his visit to the estate in August 2014 during the launch of Sunchamp Agri-Tourism Park upon the invitation of Tiu.
“We were talking while waiting for the ceremony to begin,” he said, referring to Tiu. He added that he told Tiu to take into account the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program laws in connection with the land.
Asked by senators what he told the DAR secretary, Tiu said he mentioned that his company has usufruct or right to use the land. Delos Reyes, however, insisted that what he heard from Tiu was “lease and not usufruct.”
“I asked him about ownership,” he said.
Tiu said there is a curing period of two years before the title of land could be transferred to his name.
Delos Reyes said after his visit to the farm estate, he asked his staff to check it and he told Tiu to file whatever appropriate document needed for it.
“I began to wonder and look at records. I asked my staff to write him and comply with the law. We look at the records,” he said.
Tiu earlier said that he bought the farm from Laureano Gregorio, but the transfer certificate of title is not yet ready.
Critics claimed Gregorio was just a Binay dummy. (MNS)