Bill seeks to criminalize illegal titling, encroachment of waterways

INDIVIDUALS found to be titling public waterways face six months to 12 years imprisonment should congress approve House Bill 3436, authored by Rep. Joel Roy Duavit (1st
District, Rizal),

Duavit filed a bill declaring as a criminal act the illegal titling, appropriation, encroachment and registration of creeks, esteros, streams, canals, river banks and other public waterways.

The bill is aimed to prevent or curtail the prevalent anomalous acts of titling, appropriation, encroachment, and/or registration of esteros, creeks, canals, streams, and other public waterways is consistent with public order and in furtherance of national interest.

“Urban centers have become so crowded that every available space is being encroached upon and titled to the extent that even canals, streams, and esteros are being filled up and built over, regardless of the fact that these are properties of the state, alienable, and acquisition thereof is fraudulent,” Duavit said.

“The blocking and filling up of these waterways or natural drainages has resulted in or added to the flooding, pollution, destruction of roads and other infrastructure, and the prevention of normal development and use of the area,” Duavit said.

Under the bill, the penalty of imprisonment of not less than six months to six years or a fine of not less than P5,000 or both shall be imposed on any person who appropriates and encroaches upon any creek, canal, estero, stream, and other similar public waterways.

If the titling, appropriation, encroachment, or registration of such waterway is caused by a public officer or acquired with his assistance, such public officer shall be liable for imprisonment of not less than six years to 12 years.

Furthermore, the bill provides that the crime punishable under the proposed statute shall prescribe in 20 years.  However, the right of the State to recover ownership of waterways unlawfully titled and/or acquired shall not be barred by estoppel, prescription or laches.

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