Rajah Soliman’s heir sues Estrada for plunder over land deal

By Jocelyn Uy
Last updated 09:11pm (Mla time) 07/19/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Comes now a “prince” suing jailed leader Joseph Estrada for another case of alleged plunder.


Lawyer Homobono Adaza unveiled the new case on Thursday as the country awaits judgment day on Estrada’s six-year-old plunder trial involving P4 billion in alleged ill-gotten wealth.


The new complaint centers on the “Erap City” mass housing project sitting on a land in Montalban, Rizal, purportedly owned by the “remaining heir” of native chieftains Rajah Soliman and Lapu-Lapu — Prince Julian Tallano.


Tallano claims to be the descendant of King Luisong Tagean and the rightful owner of the entire Philippine archipelago, which the “royal clan” purportedly acquired through the original Certificate of Title No. 01-4, supposedly the very first title issued to the country in 1764.


Adaza planned to lodge Tallano’s six-page complaint, which included over 100 pages of annexes, at the Office of the Ombudsman Thursday afternoon but he showed up almost empty-handed claiming his computer broke down.


The complaint will instead be filed on Friday. Similar suits will also be filed separately against affluent families, like the Ayalas and Aranetas.


The only document Adaza shared with reporters on Thursday was a letter to the Land Transportation Authority requesting all registry of deeds nationwide to stop issuing to non-owners transfers Certificate of Titles OCT No. 01-4.


The letter, dated July 5, 2007, was addressed to LRA administrator Benedicto Ulep.


Adaza said Tallano was charging Estrada for plunder, violation of the anti-graft law and the code of conduct and ethical standards for illegally acquiring a 2,500-hectare parcel of land in Montalban owned by the Tallano clan.


The controversial “Erap City” which was touted as the “first ever well-planned socialized housing project” was undertaken by the Estrada administration to provide shelter to poor residents of Quezon City and Rizal province.


“This land belongs to the Tallano family and this is not only recognized by court decisions but also by the late president Ferdinand Marcos,” Adaza told reporters.


“You will be surprised because this is a thing that will explode all over your faces … it will even rewrite Philippine history because this country used to be ruled by native kings and the current claimant is the successor of the original ruler of this country,” he elaborated.


But Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez, who is acting as Estrada’s spokesperson, dismissed the case as a “tall tale that will not sell.”


“Is it credible to believe that one family owns the more than 7,000 islands in the country?” Rodriguez asked.


He said the Ombudsman should “not waste its time” on the case, which suspiciously came only after eight years the “Erap City” was constructed and just when a decision was expected to be handed down on Estrada’s plunder case, possibly next month.


“We see a hand of politics in this,” Rodriguez said at a separate press conference. “This is a desperate move of his detractors, whom we are calling not to further cause harassment and oppression against Estrada.”


In an effort to “recover” these lands from the government, Tallano, who owns the Tallano Noble Estate Corp., sought judicial remedies from the Pasig and Pasay City courts nine years ago.


In 2001, a Pasay City court was reported to have handed down a ruling, which awarded the Philippine archipelago to Tallano.


Rajah Soliman was the last native ruler of Maynilad, then a Muslim Kingdom on the southern delta of the Pasig River. He was considered as the “greatest king of Manila” and its most important native chief when Spanish conquerors Martin de Goiti and Juan de Salcedo landed there in 1570.


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