Monday, August 30, 2010

Dealing with Problems

An attempt to Do Business in the Philippines
thoughts of an American investor

For two years now, we have tried to establish some businesses in the Municipality of Lianga, Surigao del Sur.  (See and

Our project with Phoenix Petroleum is waiting for us to acquire the Title for the 7000 sq. mt. portion of Lot 2169. My plan has always remained on course, albeit slower than I expected. Many of the obstacles that have slowed our progress continue to slow us from providing the economic benefits to this community that we initially sought. The DENR CENRO has refused since April 3, 2008 to provide us the requested Survey Authority for Lot 2169 claiming the request was lost. A second attempt was made on July 7, 2010, where the DENR supported the false claims presented by Mr. Bienvinido V. Estrebillo, and refused to issue the Survey Authority until an arrangement could be made with the claimant.

On August 25, 2010 we held a meeting with the Interim CENRO, PENRO, and DENR Officials or employees, presenting my request for an end to the many obstacles. I provided documentation that showed the ownership trail at least back to the CAD Survey in 1989, approving Pacifico Ballares (on April 25, 1995) as survey claimant (Certified Copy DENR FORM NO. 700-2A). 

Philippine Local Government Code of 1991; “CHAPTER 4 - The Sangguniang Barangay, SECTION. 391. Powers, Duties, and Functions, The Sangguniang Barangay, as the legislative body of the Barangay, shall:, (12) Authorize the Punong Barangay to enter into contracts in behalf of the Barangay, subject to the provisions of this Code; (f) Adopt measures to prevent and control the proliferation of squatters and mendicants in the Barangay;”. During our meeting I asked whether there was ever a Survey Authority on Lot 2169 sub-dividing it for ownership by someone other than Pacifico Ballares, their response was “No”. Without a prior Survey Authority there is only one owner of that Lot, and it was the responsibility of the Barangay to protect that lot while under protest.
On May 27, 2008, the Lianga Municipal Assessor certified that: "...per office records Tax Declaration/ARP No. 99-11-001-00682 is declared in the name of PACIFICO BALLRES [sic] with an area of 2.1385 has. Located at Barangay St. Christine, Lianga, Surigao del Sur, is appearing to have no existing improvements." 

The Beginning of the Story 
A protest by the Barangay lasting for more than 12 years, with its Captain at the time, mounting the protestations prevented any development on some of the land areas of Barangay St. Christine. Barangay Resolution No. 114, Series of 2008 resulting from a Regular Session of the Sangguiniang Barangay on April 7, 2008, withdrew the 12 year protest on Lot 2169, paving the way for some much needed community development. The community had suffered years of neglect from a lack of development after a Georgia Pacific company "Lianga Bay Logging Company " (See: ended its operation.

In an agreement on August 13, 2008, between Barangay St. Christine Council, Pacifico Ballares (March 16, 2000 CENRO Certification as Owner), and Mark and Merejen Borders, the protest was withdrawn by the Barangay, and a waiver of rights declared by Pacifico Ballares. We would complete a Sub-Division Plan and Survey; awarding Lot 2169B - 7,385 sq. mt. by Deed of Donation to the Barangay, Lot 2169C - 7,000 sq. mt. to Pacifico Ballares, and Lot 2169A - 7,000 sq. mt. by Deed of Sale to Merejen Borders in return for our support of a future Barangay Market on Lot 2169B. In return the Barangay was tasked "shall likewise undertake to clear the area of unlawful occupants including the adjacent area where the gas station will be erected." So why are we even dealing with this issue?

Mysteriously appearing documents?
Mr. Estrebillo's documents claim a 450 sq. mt. area as Lot 2169D, it is strange that his claim is not Lot 2169B, or F, or G. It is Lot 2169D because our Survey Authority was requested in April 3, 2008 for Lot 2169A, B, & C. Some of the documents presented by Mr. Estrebillo were obviously produced here at the DENR in Lianga. I can confirm this because during one of my waits for a meeting that never took place, I witnessed one of the DENR employees prepare a similar document as presented by Mr. Estrebillo. This is really not Rocket Science folks.

A meeting scheduled for August 31, 2010 was not held because the Interim CENRO did not appear. A rescheduled meeting will be held on September 2, 2010 where I will provide the DENR one final opportunity to choose to do the right thing and award us our Survey Authority. I will post an update after the meeting. 

Results and what is lost
The DENR has held up the progress of our projects to help benefit the community. They do this to an individual, who's first act upon coming to live here with his wife in April 2007, was to donate 430,000 pesos in materials for Barangay St. Christine to improve the Water System, supplying water to much of the Barangay (Purok 3, 4, 5, and 6). This was an outright "Donation" never to be repaid and no special favors requested. In fact the only thing that was asked of the Barangay was for them to provide free water to all schools, day cares, medical facilities, churches, and government buildings. The very next project was providing 63,593 pesos for the refurbishment of the Barangay Hall. For anyone who is counting the following list might be helpful.

Barangay Liatimco
Loan for Seaweed Buying
Barangay San Isidro
Loan for Cementing Basketball Court
Barangay St. Christine
Loan to cover check from Government
Barangay San Isidro
Dance Contest Prizes
Barangay St. Christine
Loan for Fiesta Expense
Barangay Saint Christine
Dance Contest Prizes
Barangay St. Christine
Loan for DENR Payment for Land Sketch
Lianga Tennis Club
Tournament Prize and Court Improvements
Lianga Tennis Club
Bike Race Prize
Lianga Youth Basketball
Donation for Uniforms

I think our actions helping the community deserves the respect with which we hold the community. We have further plans to aid the community on other projects in the future including the Public Market, and continued work on the Water System.

The Future
Our business plans for Lot 2169A calls for the employment of 40 employees at the sawmill, 16 employees at the Gas Station, and 10 employees at the Ice Plant. Those numbers will be reached hopefully within a year of the start of each business. Our employees will earn a reasonable wage while the businesses are below the requirements for minimum wage. But as the businesses grow and our employment reaches 10 or more, then we will strictly follow the minimum wage requirements for this Region. We will also adhere to the requirements for SSS and PhilHealth.

Check the Comments where I will post updates that are time stamped as I fill in future information.


  1. At 9:20 A.M. I received a notice from the DENR that our conference to resolve this issue would be on 9/2/2010, one day after the Interim CENRO who already knows of this issue departs.

  2. Text Messages with +639213467595 Edwin Ronquillo Acting Forester III Office Incharge.

    08/31/2010 09:52 Sent Good Morning, please ask the Interim CENRO, that I request the time for our meeting today regarding Lot 2169, per his statement to me on Aug 26, 2010.

    08/31/2010 10:00 Received Sir/mam Cenro now at Cenro Nasipit just txtd me. Hos ds pls?

    08/31/2010 10:02 Sent This is Mark Borders, I met with the Interim CENRO on Thurday Aug 26 and he advised me that we would settle this issue with LOT 2169 today.

    08/31/2010 10:09 Received Sir He stil at Butuan. Tomorow another Cenro wil report to ofice.

    08/31/2010 10:12 Sent By tomorrow the News Media will be informed of this issue. As I advised the Interim CENRO on Thurday. This situation has gone unresolved for too long.

    08/31/2010 10:13 Received Ok sir take your time.

  3. I fully sympathize with your problem. The DENR is like many of our government offices and agencies which are staffed by an uncaring and often corrupt bureaucracy. One cannot beat them at their own game especially when they have all the levers of power at their command.

    Their greatest enemy is exposure to the world and being forced to be held accountable for their corruption in the public eye and under the glare of publicity.

    That is why I blog about about what I see as rotten and despicable about our so called public servants. It is the best way to fight them - by showing them to the world as they really are.

    Let me know if I can help you out. Best wishes and more power.

  4. Our meeting was held at the DENR office on 9/2/2010 with LMO III Benilda M. Amoguis, at the start of the meeting I asked to speak with the CENRO; I was ignored. After asking 2 more times and being ignored 2 more times, I went ahead with the meeting. Modesty prevents me from saying things here that I presently believe. I was either speaking to a person of lower intelligence, or someone obviously wanting to cover up something.
    Needless to say the meeting did not go well. The LMO refused to issue our Survey Authority until we made an AMICABLE settlement with Mr. Estribillo. Her actions in my opinion make her an Accessory to the crime of extortion.
    Quickly an agreement was discussed by Mr. Estribillo that his area be excluded from the Sub-Division Plan. “Excluded”; so far I don’t have a definition of what that means. The LMO wrote up the agreement, had it typed, and presented it to us to get a Notary Public to sign it. She stated that once the Agreement was back to her the process of preparing the Survey Authority would be started.
    Looking again at his paperwork I noticed several more irregularities that proved to me his documents were false (falsely made by government employees). As long as everyone continues to let these government officials and employees get away with illegal acts there will never be real change in the Philippines.
    We had a visit today by the Geodetic Engineer Christopher; we explained the results of the meeting and the topics that were discussed. The Engineer clearly and quickly saw the truth of what I’ve been saying all along. How can there be a Lot 2169D when according to the DENR Records office there has never been a request for Survey authority on Lot 2169 except for our own. Chris discussed the request to have Mr. Estribillo’s 450 sq. mts. excluded from the sub-division plan and sketch. He said if there were ever to be another lot it must be on this Survey, otherwise it would not exist.
    The LMO promised we would have our Survey Authority by next Friday, September 10, 2010. We will see.

  5. Well here it is the 20th of September 2010. As I expected, we still have no Survey Authority. It was promised to us by September 10 by the DENR, of course promises by the DENR mean absolutely nothing.
    As I've stated many times, all this man's documents are fake. His fake sketch plan has no technical description because it was created by a DENR LMO officer not a Surveyor. There is no chance for us to receive a Title this way.

  6. We are having similar problems with the DENR officials in Palawan.
    Years of delays, more documents required, several "property inspections" where we are expected to pay travel costs and lunch, and repeated meetings where they don't show up.
    Others here who have somehow been successfull have admittedly paid huge bribes to these officials. Some pay the bribe money and still get nowhere. More money required.
    It is no wonder that the Philippines has so many land disputes. A small bribe to the DENR can provide any document you need to claim land. A bigger bribe will get you a title.
    Perhaps bypassing these local officials and going to the Manila office would help. Pay the highest guy on the totem pole.


Please feel free to express any opinions about our businesses here or the way we deal with our neighbors. We will try our best to respond to all who make comments if you include an email address.

We are trying our best to support our community in every way we can. Sometimes we face struggles, which interferes with our timetable, but we can only do so much. Please be patient with us, we are doing the best we can.