Mayor Cortes, 4 other Mandaue officials, face raps for allegedly turning private lot into relocation site

Mayor Cortes, 4 other Mandaue officials, face raps for allegedly turning private lot into relocation site

CRIMINAL charges have been brought against five Mandaue City officials in connection with the 9.5 hectares of land that reportedly belong to a private individual but were distributed to the informal settlers.

Maria Priscilla Melendres filed the charges against Mayor Jonas Cortes and city councilors Maline Zafra, Oscar Del Castillo, Jen Del Mar, and Cynthia Remedio at the Office of Ombudsman Samuel Reyes Martires in Quezon City on March 16, 2024, for violating Section 3 of Republic Act 3019, also known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

In the case of "oppression, gross misconduct in office, and grave abuse of authority" Melendres also filed a separate complaint at the Office of the President.

The plaintiff requested President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. to put those officials involved under preventive suspension, while the case is being heard so that they could not influence the witnesses and threaten those who handle the investigation.

"The respondents could influence the witnesses or pose a threat to the safety and integrity of the records and other evidence," read part of Melendres' complaint.

But according to lawyer Julius Caesar Entice, the city's Assistant City Assessor, the city has the right to own the land because it is classified as timberland, which means that a private individual cannot own it.

In spite of that, Melendres, a resident of Barangay Lahug in Cebu City, insisted that they own the lot located in Barangay Paknaan, which has been used as a relocation site for informal settlers.

Melendres said the land was owned by his grandmother and was sold to her.

According to Melendres, more than 100 houses have already been built in the area.

She revealed that the tax declaration which she filed was also registered under her name and was recognized by the city government.

She added that the City Assessor’s Office also recognized her as the real owner based on the Real Property Tax Statement that she filed.

Melendres stated that she had further paid P100,291.50 for the lot's increased assessment price.

Additionally, Melendres filed a complaint against Cortes, which is still pending at the Municipal Trial Court in Cities 2 in Mandaue.

Melendres believes that the respondents ignored the legal process and proceeded in awarding the lots to the informal settlers even though the ejection case was still pending.

Melendres also accused the city of destroying the fence that she installed in the area. (AYB, TPT)


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