THE Negros Occidental governor denied the criminal and administrative charges filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against him and 10 others.
The complaint stemmed from the alleged anomalous purchase of the Negros First Ranch in Murcia town.
In his 11-page counter-affidavit, a copy of which was furnished to the media Sunday, Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. said the accusations made by the Field Investigation Office are “untrue and baseless.”
He added that the purchase of the three lots in Barangays Sta. Rosa and Canlandog was “legal and in accordance with law.”
Moreover, the governor said the acquisition of the property is exempted from the requirements of Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) clearance as the purchaser is a government entity being a local government unit, citing the memorandum of Land Registration Authority dated December 5, 2014, stating that no DAR clearance shall be necessary where the transferee is the government.
On the allegations of the farm workers who claimed to have already filed a petition for Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp) coverage or have already signed applications to Purchase and Farmer’s Undertaking, “they have no vested rights to be considered over the subject landholdings until the same are awarded to them,” the governor said in the counter-affidavit.
He added: “Even if they claim to be alleged registered potential Carp beneficiaries, the same does not help their cause. As potential Carp beneficiaries, they are only included in the list of those who may be awarded land under the Carp. However, the landholdings involve here were not awarded to them yet.”
Marañon said he acted in “good faith, with regards to the matter of alleged Carp coverage, in the purchase of three lots from Arguelles family, more so that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan had approved such purchase.”
The governor said the fact the purchased lots were devoted for the purpose for which they were acquired negates dishonesty and grave misconduct.
Aside from Marañon, also included in the case were the late Provincial Administrator Enrique Pinongan, Provincial Treasurer Gilda Generoso, former Acting Provincial Accountants Lucille Chavez-Pines and Caroline Isuga, Assistant Provincial Treasurer Lilia Sandy, retired Provincial Assessor Merlita Caelian, retired Provincial Engineer Leoncio Garrucho Jr. along with private landowners Albert Arguelles Jo, George Arguelles, and Gloria Arguelles.