DOJ shelves raps vs DevCo-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Friday, September 6, 2013
THE Department of Justice (DOJ) dismissed 50 of 52 Malversation of Public Funds cases filed by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) against officials of the Camp John Hay Development Corporation (CJHDevCo).
The Justice department resolved for the dismissal of the complaint against 12 executives of CJHDevCo due to insufficiency of evidence.
The resolution ordered by Prosecution Attorney Omar Cris Casimiro and approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Fadullon dismissed the cases against CJHDevCo directors William Russell Sobrepeña, Enrique Sobrepeña, Jr., Rafael Perez de Tagle, Jr., Gulshan Bedi, Raul Goco, Silvestre Bello III, Noel Cariño, Bobby Cafe, Dennis Ignacio, Manuel Ubarra, Jr., and CJH Leisure Inc. officers Noel Cariño, Bobby Cafe, Dennis Ignacio, Ramon Cabrera and Heinrich Maulbecker.
In a complaint filed by BCDA president Arnel Casanova, the CJHDevCo directors and officers were charged with malversation of public funds for allegedly withholding income based on a leaseback agreement BCDA has with CJHDevCo for 26 hotel rooms at CJHDevCo-run hotels at The Manor and The Suites (now renamed Forest Lodge).
Casanova then demanded an immediate turnover of the subject hotel rooms from CJH DevCo.
The DOJ prosecutor upheld the legality of the recognized Leaseback Agreement signed by BCDA in favor of the John Hay Developer which forbids a turnover of the BCDA-owned hotel rooms back to BCDA until after the lapse of the 15-year lease period.
"There shall be no pre-termination of the Leaseback Agreement by either party during the initial fifteen-year period of the Leaseback Agreement," the DOJ cited the provision in the Leaseback Agreement.
"Since the existence of valid Leaseback Agreement was admitted by both parties, its provisions should be properly observed. The same is likewise true as regards the charge of Failure to Make Delivery of Public Property punishable under Article 221 of the Revised Penal Code. Although BCDA already demanded the immediate turnover of the twenty six (26) subject hotel room units, CJHDevCo's refusal to do so was justified pursuant to Section 6 of the Leaseback Agreement," state prosecutors also pointed in the resolution.
The DOJ also noted while a case for malversation of public funds is possible due to the public nature of the subject property, CJHDevCo cannot be held liable for malversation of public funds in this instance because it suffered losses in the operations of the subject hotels.
"With regard to BCDA's rental income in the CJH Suites Hotel, the inquiry of the undersigned is limited to the evidence submitted by the parties and a careful examination of the same would reveal that CJH DevCo was indeed suffering from a loss in the operations of the said hotel. Thus, there is no malversation in the said rental income," the resolution stated.
CJHDevCo vice-president for litigation and spokesperson Manuel Ubarra Jr. said they "feel vindicated by this development."
Ubarra said they have full faith and confidence in the due process clause as guaranteed in the Constitution.
Meanwhile, CJHDevCo Chief Operating Officer Alfredo Yñiguez III filed perjury charges against a BCDA senior official and BCDA private lawyers over motions they made in court last May for cancellation of bail and a judge’s inhibition in the malversation case.
The perjury lawsuit was filed against BCDA corporate secretary Peter Paul Andrew Flores and three private lawyers—Demetrio Custodio Jr., Eloysa Sicam and Mary Kimberlie See who allegedly advised Flores and prepared the twin motions.
In affidavits submitted with the motions, Flores swore Judge Mia Joy Oallares-Cawed of the Baguio Regional Trial Court granted bail to Yñiguez without an "undertaking," or a statement under oath pledging compliance with bail conditions.
The perjury suit filed claimed this does not absolve the four respondents since they still made the allegations in the filed motions, which were even notarized by one of the lawyers.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 07, 2013.