Mabalacat exec faces graft charges

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013


MABALACAT CITY -- Graft charges were lodged against Mabalacat Vice Mayor Noel Castro before the Ombudsman over the alleged illegal acquisition of a parcel of land in Sitio Talimundok, Barangay Bundagul, this city.

Noel Maglalang, a resident of Sitio Salazar in Barangay Bundagul here, lodged the complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman for Luzon on November 5, 2012.

Maglalang charged Castro of violation of RA 3019, or the "Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act," and violation of the Revised Penal Code, Article 217 "Malversation of Public Property."

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In his complaint, Maglalang alleged that Castro caused the acquisition of a 500-square-meter lot at Sitio Talimundok while still serving as barangay captain of Barangay Bundagul in 2003.

The previous owners of the land - spouses Joaquin and Victoria Concepcion - served a notice of ejectment to Barangay Bundagul that had been using the land as a basketball playground for the youth.

With this, Castro acted immediately to purchase the contested land from the Concepcions in the amount of P115,000.

Castro allegedly took the P115,000 from then Barangay Bundagul treasurer Eliza Cunanan.

In 2010, Barangay Bundagul officials discovered that the property is registered under Castro's name.

Bundagul officials had decided to solicit funds for the further improvement of the land for recreational purposes.

A senator agreed to provide funds for the pavement of the basketball court, the construction of its fence and roof provided that the land is registered under the barangay.

It turned out, however, that the land had been transferred in the name of Vice Mayor Castro under a new land title - TCT No. 537888-R - back in April 29, 2003.

The former land title of the Concepcions - TCT No. 432535-R had already been cancelled in favor of the new one under the name of Vice Mayor Castro.

Castro immediately donated the contested land to Barangay Bundagul on May 7, 2012 or nine years after its acquisition and transfer of ownership to his name.

Maglalang noted that Castro "while performing his official function as barangay captain of Bundagul misapplied and appropriated for his personal use, or converted to his own personal use and ownership a public property owned by Barangay Bundagul, to the damage and prejudice of the government."

"If the Ombudsman will find him guilty of the corruption charges, he (Castro) faces a six-year imprisonment and he will be also disqualified from seeking public office," one of the lawyers handling the case said.

"Sa mga nakita kong dokumento at mga testimonya ng mga complainant malakas ang ebidensiya laban kay Castro," the lawyer added.

Castro denied the allegations, saying it is politically-motivated and the handiwork of his detractors in politics.

He said he acquired the property with his personal funds. No government funds were spent in the acquisition of the lot, according to him.

Castro said the Register of Deeds will not register the lot under his name if it is a government property.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on January 29, 2013.

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