By MANUEL L. MORATÓ
Save a tree
My siblings and I still have a pending case regarding a Narra tree planted by our father, Tomas Morato, seventy years ago at the front of where our ancestral home used to be, now beside the excavation site where our parents’ ancestral home was before. Together with my sisters and our lawyers, we requested the DENR to save the tree for there is a law banning the cutting of Narra, Molave and other hardwood trees which are difficult to grow; and are near extinction due to illegal loggers before who exported illegally to other countries. These are hardwoods that take decades to grow.
We thank Secretary Roy A. Cimatu and his Department, DENR, for taking note of our request. First, the property of my parents is under court litigation. We filed three cases in court. One, Civil Case in the RTC in Quezon City with case number R-QZN -18-04305 for annulment; Two, Syndicated Estafa, a criminal case now on appeal with the DOJ Main Office in Padre Faura with Docket No. XV-03-INV-18F-05949; Three, a graft and corruption case in the Office of the Ombudsman with Case No. IC-OC-19-0133 and we have lodged complaints before in the Housing and Land Use and Regulatory Board as well as in the Barangay and pertinent offices in Quezon City.
Am I not supposed to say anything on these three cases which are public records? Is it “libelous” to inform the public what are we going through? That’s why our “powerful” people in office get away with wrongdoings because they gag the people by threatening them with “libel.” The public must be informed to protect themselves as well from people who think that they are powerful.
Let me remind all public officials for I’ve been one too for 17 years: You cannot be onion-skinned when criticized as a public official. For the sake of transparency, the people have the right to speak out; and anyone who wants to say anything, just answer and be truthful and transparent. Accept all the criticisms for the people have the right to complain when being taken advantaged of; or for simply seeking a valid answer to what they want to know. Murahin man kayo, tandaan ninyo na pera na galing sa kaban ng bayan ang isinusuweldo sa inyo. Which is why those serving in government are called public servants, not your Highnesses!
So, take all the verbal or written blows as I did from the so-called “Concerned Artists of the Philippines” who demanded total freedom of expression everytime the MTRCB would delete cuss words, salacious scenes; gory, sadistic and violent scenes in the movies they make which is actually prohibited by the Revised Penal Code, the IRR of MTRCB as approved by the Office of the President; and our laws itself.
As Chairman of MTRCB for six years, I took all the curses thrown at me. I have had my share. But I stood pat on the mandate of the law governing the government agency I headed. But never did I go down to their level.
I have noticed na may palakasan pa rin in government offices that those in public positions have double standards like in the past and now. Pag kaibigan at may impluwensiya ang lumapit sa kanila, kawawa ang nilalabanan. This is the first thing of this magnitude happen to my family. Nothing like this happened to us since 1939 when my father took over as First Mayor of Quezon City. Why now? Is it because the daughter of my brother Pia Morato Barretto is in the PCOO office in Malacanang? Is it because my youngest brother Jose. L. Morato (Pete), father of Pia, is a close associate of then Speaker Belmonte and RJ Jacinto who claim to be powerful in this administration? We never expected this to happen in President Duterte’s administration whom I supported and voted for Duterte/Marcos tandem while my relatives I mentioned supported the Liberal party candidates. Now they flex their muscle because they were able to cuddle up to President Duterte through his cohorts.
For almost one year, our Civil Case in Court did not get anywhere. Last January 21, 2019 when the trial proper was supposed to begin, the other party asked the presiding Judge to inhibit for the other party I am sure could not face the presentation of documents. They insinuated that the Judge was “biased” toward us when we did not even know the Judge before. And we are not the type to intimidate anyone. As a matter of fact, at the beginning of the case last April 2018, we were given a TRO for 20 days and the other party did not even follow the ruling of the Judge. Within that 20-day TRO, we could have saved the ancestral home of our parents, had it been acted upon. Did we request the Honorable Judge to inhibit for not penalizing the other party for not honoring his decision? No, we did not. Our lawyers, Atty. Diosdado Macapagal and Atty. Dennis Manicad were prudent enough not to request for the Judge to inhibit. We were told that these requests for the Judge to inhibit is pure and simple part of dilatory tactics to delay the cases in court.
We filed a criminal case in the DOJ in Quezon City, it was decided before Christmas without even calling us for a hearing, not even once to hear our side before deciding against us. We did not even know what documents were presented by the other party; or what were said by them to the Deputy Prosecutor without referring to us for comment.
Because of new additional documents acquired by our lawyers, a case was filed in the Office of the Ombudsman last January 31, 2019. It has been more than two months. In the meantime, Joy Belmonte sued eleven (11) media reporters and columnists of libel, including me, for writing about it. What’s wrong with it? It’s public record. We were accused of “politics” because of the coming elections. But the case has nothing to do with politics. Who started excavating and demolishing the ancestral home of our parents? It was a surprise attack against us the heirs of our mother, for the estate case of our late father was finished in the early 80s. Sila ang wrong-timing sa ginawa nila sa amin. Could there be worst than what they did to us, heirs of my mother?
Our lawyers feel that the City Council cannot issue Special Permits to put up 21-storey condo/hotel in a residential area here in our family compound in favor of Joy’s relatives who would be benefitted. According to the law, a government official/s cannot favor relatives up to the 3rd or 4th degree of consanguinity. And according to a columnist in another leading newspaper, a City Ordinance cannot disregard a Republic Act 10066 signed by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo prohibiting from demolishing structures 50 years old and above without going through court for permission, if the request can be granted, calling all the heirs. Our ancestral home is 70 years old when it was demolished on April 2018 without the permission of all the heirs. My mother never sold that to my youngest brother. Never! It is clearly written in her Holographic Will which she turned over to me when she was in her sixties, healthy and lucid and in full control of her senses that her house (our ancestral home) must be for the enjoyment of her children. Binalewala lahat ng bunso kong kapatid ang huling bilin ng aming ina.
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