OMBUDSMAN RECEIVES 2 COMPLAINTS
TWO SEPARATE complaints have been filed before the Ombudsman against Mayor Benjamin Lim for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act or Republic Act 3019 Section 3, par. e in connection with the purchase of a 30-hectare property in Barangay Awai, San Jacinto for P16 million purportedly to be used as a site for an engineered sanitary landfill.
The first complaint was filed by an anonymous person via the Ombudsman’s internet link last June 6.
The second complaint, a copy of which was furnished to The PUNCH last Friday, also included Jose Mariano Cuña, the private individual who sold the lot to the city, as Lim’s co-respondent.
The complaint filed by Leo Angeles, a Dagupan resident, was received by the Office of the Ombudsman for Luzon on July 23, 2012 and subscribed and sworn to before Atty. Dennis A. Mendoza, administering officer.
Angeles, who filed the complaint in his capacity as a taxpayer, said he learned about the alleged irregularity that attended the purchase through newspaper reports and then he himself verified the actual status of the property.
The complaint alleges that the land was sold by one Estrella Sangalang of San Jacinto for P7 million to Cuña on December 18,2001, who then sold the same to the Dagupan City government for P16 million on April11, 2002.
The sale was consummated between Cuña and the city of Dagupan with Mayor Benjamin Lim as signatory.
At the time of the sale of the property to Cuña, the land was tenanted by several people, namely: Domingo de Vera; Narcisa Araos; Inocencia Cayabyab; Juan Sembrana; Ricardo Nitcha and Benjamin Ronquillo, represented by Celia Ronquillo; Sivino Sembrana, represented by Maria Sembrana; Santiago Ferrer, represented by Degilma Ferrer; and Froctuoso Padaoan, represented by Teonora Padaoan.
All the tenants said they came to know of the sale of the land only after it was reported by the media, after which they filed a case before the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) for a claim on the property.
On March 21, 2003, a notice of coverage was sent to the city of Dagupan stating among others that the Awai lot is under the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) and that the Land Bank of the Philippines was already under the process of determining the land value of the lot.
The decision of the DARAB placing the entire property under CARP became final and executory after the failure of the Lim administration or the city government to make any move to question the tenants’ claim or ask for reconsideration of the decision.
Angeles said that the sale entered in behalf of the city of Dagupan by Lim was manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government, contending that the purchase was overpriced, having bought by Cuna for P7 million and later sold for P16 million after only four months.
He said this is a clear case of misuse of funds.
At the same time, Angeles highlighted that after 10 years, the city of Dagupan has not been able to take possession of the property, thus defeating the purpose for which it was acquired.
Angeles also noted that there is no proof to show ownership or title of the subject parcel of land, thus was a reckless waste of public funds.
Angeles claimed that undue injury to the government was caused by the evident bad faith and gross negligence of Lim in the discharge of his function.
Attached in the complaint were the Deed of Absolute Sale executed by Sangalang and Cuna; Deed of Absolute Sale executed by Cuna with the city of Dagupan, represented by Lim; Notice of Coverage dated March 2, 2004 signed by Rolando Gamboa, municipal agrarian officer of San Jacinto; and Certificate of Finality issued by the DARAB Board stating that no motion for reconsideration or notice of appeal was made, thereby making the decision final and executory.