Five people have been arrested for attempting to sell inalienable land – or land owned by the government – on Boracay Island.
Inalienable land can not be disposed for agricultural or other purposes, unless it is specifically declassified by the government.
At a press conference on Wednesday (March 28), the NBI identified the suspects as Gina Talapian, Lorelei Tarrosa, Jacqueline Anne Yao, Jason Lacson and Chuanlin Yang.
They were arrested in an entrapment operation at a hotel in Pasay City on Tuesday.
The operation stemmed from a complaint by a “hotel and entertainment corporation” that the group had been selling 7,988 square meters of land on the renowned tourist island.
The supposed transaction started in June 2016 when Tarrosa and Talapian represented themselves as the heirs of Libertad Yap-Talapian with authority to dispose of the property.
Believing the claims of the two, the complainant agreed to buy the property and pay for the land in instalments.
Then, in March last year, the corporation checked the status of the land with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which said it was forest land and could not be disposed of.
Then, in August, a representative of the corporation went to the office of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office, which confirmed that the land was inalienable.
The corporation then discontinued its payments to the suspects. However, by this point it had already handed over a total of 38.5 million pesos.
Undeterred, the suspects continued to demand payment of the remaining instalments, even while the corporation was requesting a refund.
The parties agreed to meet and settle at a hotel in Pasay City where the NBI was lying in wait.
The suspects are facing a complaint for syndicated estafa under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Presidential Decree 1689 (Increasing the Penalty for certain Forms of Swindling or Estafa).