Estafa raps vs ex-barangay chief


A FORMER village chief of Barangay Communal, Davao City is facing charges before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) after he allegedly swindled a car dealer last year.

Facing estafa charges is Arnold Maalat, former barangay captain of Barangay Communal. Prosecutor Joseph Mamburam found probable cause to charge Maalat based on the complaint of Demetrio Bentoy, owner of D Unique Car Center Shop.

Bentoy cited in his affidavit that on June 19, 2013, he was given a down payment of P100,000 by a client who requested him to procure a second-hand multicab vehicle that he will be customizing. On the same day, he met Maalat who was introduced to him by their common friend Albert Suarez.

Suarez told Bentoy that the respondent can provide a much cheaper second-hand multicab for P70,000. Thus, Bentoy entrusted the payment to Maalat who assured the complainant that the vehicle will be delivered to his shop within four days or return the same amount when the vehicle will not be procured. The complainant then had Maalat sign the acknowledgement receipt dated June 20, 2013 upon receiving the P70,000.

Four days have passed yet no vehicle was delivered to the shop of the complainant. On June 25, he contacted Maalat and the latter said he will deliver the vehicle on the same day. However, the respondent did not live up to his commitment.

On July 3, Bentoy approached Maalat at the barangay hall of Barangay Communal and he was told that the respondent will return the P70,000 instead. Still, the respondent was not able to deliver. The complainant cited that he had to loan money from a money lending company just so he could deliver the services to his client and he is relying on the P70,000 that Maalat owes him to repay the loan.

Bentoy reportedly sought assistance from Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte who called Maalat. Maalat claimed that the P70,000 is already with Suarez and Bentoy can get the money from him. Suarez, however, told Bentoy that the cash is not with him claiming that Maalat was just forced to say that the payment was already with him since he was afraid of the vice mayor.

On August 22, a demand letter was issued to Maalat asking him to pay the P70,000. But weeks have passed yet no payment was made, thus, Bentoy was compelled to file charges.

Maalat, in his counter-affidavit, insisted that it should be Suarez who should be charged as he was the one who transacted with Bentoy.

But Mamburam denied the respondent's contention since it was clear through the acknowledgement receipt and the complaint of Bentoy that it was Maalat who handled the transaction hence, he affirmed the charges against Maalat.

The case is currently with the RTC Office of the Clerk of Court and is set to be raffled off on Thursday.

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