The Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) expresses its serious concerns over the involvement of the Honorable Senator Cynthia A. Villar in connection with the unlawful exercise of administrative authority and police authority  by the DPWH Las Piñas District, Las Piñas City Traffic Management Unit (TMU) and certain personnel of the Las Piñas Police Station 4 and a SWAT Team, respectively, in a series of incidents involving PRA titled properties situated in Barangay E. Aldana, Las Piñas City, more commonly known as the ‘Waste Transfer Station’ (WTS) facility.

On April 12, 2018, the DPWH Las Piñas Engineering District and its contractor, ANORE Construction, attempted, without PRA consent and clearance, to position equipment and personnel for road clearing and site preparation in the immediate vicinity of the WTS. Such road clearing activities were to be part of the civil works for the establishment of box culverts on the open canal at the back of the WTS which when completed, will also serve as a secondary road parallel to the CAVITEX. Engineer Bienvenido Ojeda of ANORE stated in his sworn statement as entered in the Blotter of Barangay E. Aldana on April 12, 2018 that their mobilization and attempted entry into the PRA titled property was already cleared with the office of Senator Cynthia Villar. This was in response to the action of the PRA security guards who prevented the intended road clearing works from being implemented in the absence of any clearance from the property owner, PRA.

On April 27, 2018 at around 11:30 am, ANORE accompanied by Las Piñas Station 4 police led by Senior Inspector (SI) Datul and a SWAT team forcibly entered the same PRA titled property. The Las Piñas police confiscated the cell phones of the PRA security guards who were taking pictures and videos of the incident for reporting purposes.

Alerted to the incident, GM Janilo E. Rubiato detoured from a scheduled trip to catch a Davao flight to defuse the situation. He questioned the right of the Las Piñas Police and SWAT team to enter PRA titled property without the proper authorization and to take the cell phones of PRA security personnel. The police returned the cell phones to their owners, but only after deleting all the pictures and videos taken of the incident.

On the same day, at around 4:00 pm after GM Rubiato had already left for the airport, the Honorable Senator Cynthia A. Villar went to the site and ordered the PRA security guards to vacate the area, and put aside the barriers installed by PRA.

On May 3, 2018, DPWH Las Piñas District and its contractor forcibly removed the concrete barriers that PRA re-installed but this time loaded the same barriers onto trucks and carted them away to be taken to the Garbage Segregation Facility of Las Piñas City LGU. The PRA guards reported that the DPWH personnel who took the barriers said “that if PRA wants to recover them, PRA should redeem them from the Office of Senator Villar.” All these acts were done without opposition from PRA guards who were threatened by the presence and security cover provided by the Las Piñas police and SWAT team deployed in the area as well as the presence and directives given by Senator Villar to the PRA guards and the DPWH Las Piñas District and its contractor ANORE during the April 27, 2018 incident.

Lastly, on May 23, 2018, the same Las Piñas police team together with personnel of the Las Piñas City Traffic Management Unit (TMU) forcibly removed PRA’s unserviceable vehicle placed by PRA in the middle of the Waste Transfer Station access road to serve as additional barrier to any illegal intrusions. Again, reports of PRA Security guards on site state that according to the Las Piñas TMU personnel, they were just following instructions from Senator Cynthia Villar.

PRA emphasizes that the rule of law still governs in the Philippines. No one is above the law. As a government instrumentality, it is incumbent upon PRA to protect its assets from any unlawful intrusions. PRA was validly exercising its property rights but was prevailed upon by the DPWH Las Piñas under duress and intimidation coming from the Las Piñas Police, SWAT, Las Piñas TMC and the involvement of Senator Villar.

PRA calls upon the leadership of the Senate, the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Philippine National Police to investigate and to impose appropriate sanctions to those found to have committed illegal acts in order to preserve the rule of law in this country.