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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Parties in Ungab cases explore settlement

THE camp of lawyer Jiecel Tiu claimed yesterday that Ronda Vice Mayor Jonnah John Ungab offered to settle the case Tiu filed last Feb. 27, after Ungab’s wife allegedly attacked her.

Lawyer Rex Fernandez, Tiu’s spokesperson, said that Vice Mayor Ungab visited Atty. Tiu’s residence in Minglanilla town, Cebu last Thursday night and offered to settle the case.

“Basically, we turned down the offer. It was a ridiculous and stupid offer,” Fernandez told Sun.Star Cebu in a phone interview. He refused to elaborate.

Fernandez disclosed Ungab’s supposed offer when asked to comment on reports that Tiu had “asked for P500,000 or more” to settle the case. Fernandez denied that Tiu sought such an offer from Ungab.

He clarified that Tiu is also amenable to enter into a compromise agreement, but would like to set the conditions.

The first, non-negotiable condition, Fernandez added, is that Atty. Ungab, his wife Pearl and two of the vice mayor’s family members issue a written public apology to Atty. Tiu.

‘They started it’

“Remember that they started this all. We should be the one to set the conditions,” said Fernandez. A financial settlement for damages may be negotiated.

Fernandez said they are finalizing their motion asking for a review of the prosecutor’s recommendation to file a charge of slight physical injuries, instead of frustrated murder, against the vice mayor’s wife, Pearl.

Tiu, 31, filed the complaint last Feb. 27 accusing Pearl, 41, of hitting her car with a pick-up truck, then striking parts of the car and Tiu herself with a baseball bat in Barangay Cogon-Ramos, Cebu City.

Tiu has said that she and Ungab, her former boss, did not have an affair.

Calls and text messages sent to Vice Mayor Ungab’s mobile phone, seeking his statement, were unanswered. The vice mayor also declined to be interviewed when Sun.Star Cebu chanced upon him in the lobby of a Cebu City hotel last Thursday noon.

On leave

The 42-year-old president of the Vice Mayors’ League of the Philippines Cebu Chapter, though, promised to respond to the issue “in due time.” Lawyer Vicente Espina, who also chanced upon Ungab near the hotel entrance, asked the vice mayor if he was okay. “I have to be okay,” Ungab replied.

The vice mayor, according to Ronda Municipal Council Secretary Daphne Aguaviva, is on leave and won’t be presiding over the town council’s session at 10 a.m. today.

Aguaviva declined to say when the vice mayor is reporting back for work, and described Ungab as a good person.

Maayo na siya modala sa iyang position as a vice mayor... Wa gayud na siya’yo taw nga naperwisyo (He works well as a vice mayor and has never caused anyone any inconvenience),” Aguaviva said.

Councilor Bibiano Cabaron, Ronda’s Association of Barangay Councils president and an ex-officio member of the council, said the incident involving the vice mayor has not affected the council so far.

Support

Cabaron last saw Ungab when he presided over the session last Feb. 28, two days after the incident between the vice mayor’s wife and Tiu, his former law firm associate.

Maayo ra man na siya. Wala ra man na namo (He is a good person. The incident does not affect us),” Cabaron said.

While this developed, a former law student who has accused Ungab of sexual harassment is “not after John, but financial support” for her child, her sister says.

Pia (real name withheld) has a pending complaint against the vice mayor and is also asking him for financial support for her son, who is now more than a year old.

When pressed for clarification, Pia’s sister did not categorically state that they will withdraw the complaint. She said that Pia still has to talk with retired judge Olegario Sarmiento, who helped her correct her original complaint.

The sister said that Pia had to put off taking the Bar exam because she is busy caring for her son. She also returned to her hometown because she felt uneasy living in Cebu City.
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