SC clears former Cavite Governor Maliksi of graft
The Supreme Court has cleared former Cavite Gov. Erineo S. Maliksi of graft charges arising from the alleged questionable P125-million relocation contract for informal settlers affected by the Light Rail Transit 1 South Extension Project.
In a 16-page extended resolution released Tuesday, the high court granted the petition filed by Maliksi and Doris J. Ensomo, provincial accountant of Cavite, reversing the March 10, 2017 and July 31, 2018 order and resolution by the Ombudsman.
The resolution reversed by the high court found probable cause to file a case for violation the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, or Republic Act No. 3019, against them before the Sandiganbayan.
The high court said the Ombudsman gravely abused its discretion when it approved the filing of criminal charges against the petitioners.
The high court said the Ombudsman failed to demonstrate the presence of evident bad faith, gross inexcusable negligence, or manifest partiality in petitioners’ payment of the following: (a) tenants’ disturbance compensation; (b) broker’s commission and (c) capital gains tax and documentary stamp tax (DST).
“The Ombudsman did not cite the specific law, regulation, or ordinance prohibiting the payment of tenants’ disturbance compensation by a provincial government and enumerating the documentation required to support such expenditure,” the high court said.
“Without the applicable legal basis, the petitioners’ approval of the payment of tenants’ disturbance compensation alone is insufficient to engender a reasonable belief that the petitioners have violated Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019,” it added.
At the same time, the high court said Cynthia S. Monteclaros, the attorney-in-fact of the landowners could held liable for violation of the Real Estate Service Act of the Philippines (RESA), or Republic Act No. 9646.
Under RESA, only the duly licensed real estate broker is entitled to demand a fee, commission or compensation in real estate transactions.
The high court said the law was enacted on June 29, 2009, but the deed of absolute sale between the province of Cavite and Montesclaros was made in January 2009.
The case arose as an offshoot of the deal in February 2008 when the Light Rail Transit Authority and the Cavite provincial government entered into a memorandum of agreement for the identification, acquisition and development of a relocation site for the informal settlers affected by the LRT-1 South Extension Project.
LRT released the initial amount of P500,000 to fast-track the implementation of the project.
In January 2009, Cavite entered into a deed of absolute sale with Montesclaros over 14 parcels of land in Barangay Santiago, General Trias, Cavite measuring 209,147 square meters for a total of P125.48 million.
But the province ended up paying an additional P16 million for extra expenses.
On March 31, 2011, the Commission on Audit (COA) issued a notice of disallowance for the payments for lack of basis as the deed of absolute sale provided that the purchase price was already net of taxes, fees, expenses, brokers’ commission, tenants’ disturbance compensation and damages.
The controversy eventually prompted the corruption complaint against Maliksi. /atm
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