Ownership issue hounds resort in Siargao’s renowned surfing site

GENERAL LUNA, Siargao Island (MindaNews/12 May) – A legal battle over ownership is hounding the site of a resort in the world-renowned surfing destination in this town.

On Wednesday last week, sisters Remedios Alipayo-Podadera, 72, and Consisa Alipayo Gemparo, 77, told MindaNews that Welia Archibald, Ocean 101 Cloud 9 Beach Resort operator is illegally sitting on a property owned by their late father, Mario Alipayo.

They said they had filed a case which has been pending in court for almost nine years now.

Podadera and Gemparo said their father, who died in March 1984, left them a lot measuring .5625 hectare in sitio Mainit, Catangnan, General Luna. The place, popularly known as “Cloud Nine”, now hosts several resorts.

The sisters said that sometime in 1998, Tax Declaration No. 922, which was registered in the name of their late grandfather, Pablo Alipayo, had been cancelled and replaced with Tax Declaration No. 8486 in the name of Silverio Gonzaga as owner. The cancellation was based on a deed of absolute sale purportedly executed by their grandfather on April 21, 1978.

Plaintiffs said their grandfather could not have made the sale because he died on April 17, 1940.

“Thus, the signature appearing on the name of the late Pablo Alipayo in the said deed of sale was a forgery and the purported deed of sale was absolutely simulated. It was void and inexistent,” the sisters said in their complaint.

In 1998, Gonzaga sold the contested land to Pelagio and Wendelina Alipayo, relatives of the plaintiffs and parents of Welia Archibald.

The said sale was likewise void and inexistent, it being a production of a previous void and inexistent sale, the complaint said.

The questioned sale earned for Gonzaga, a public school teacher in General Luna National High School, a suspension of one month and one day after the Civil Service Commission charged him with falsification of public documents.

MindaNews tried to contact Archibald last week but her brother, Peloy Alipayo, said Welia was in Australia.

She also has not responded to queries made through her Facebook account.

The two sisters said their life has become more difficult after they filed the case because “we sold everything we had just to pay the litigation expenses”.

They said they plant lemon grass and camote leaves for a living.

“It’s so hard because we cannot afford a lawyer, we are just poor, small farmers,” they said in tears.

Archibald is accused too of encroaching on a property in Catangnan owned by lawyer Doris Camingue. The case is also still pending in court.

Camingue said Wednesday that Archibald bought a land adjacent to hers and erected a fence that encroached on her (Camingue) lot.

Another farmer in Cloud Nine, Rodulfo A. Figuron, accused Archibald of stealing his beach front property.

Archibald, however, had filed a civil case against Figuron for annulment of title.

But Figuron said Archibald has no legal basis, as Archibald relied on a deed of sale supposedly signed by Pablo Alipayo years after his death.

Like Podadera and Gemparo, Rodulfo Figuron is an heir of Pablo Alipayo.

General Luna Mayor Jaime P. Rusillon on Tuesday said there are now close to 20 cases in court involving land disputes in this surfing capital.

He said prices of real property have skyrocketed and cases of ownership conflicts have become common after the local government developed the road going to Cloud Nine. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)