Cabugao, Ilocos Sur mayor ordered arrested over resort dispute
MANILA, Philippines – The Cabugao Regional Trial Court Branch 24 has ordered the arrest of Cabugao, Ilocos Sur Mayor Josh Edward Cobangbang due to a criminal complaint over the padlocking of a local beach resort with its operator and four-year-old son trapped inside.
Cobangbang was the subject of the arrest warrant issued last Tuesday for a case of serious illegal detention and grave coercion recently filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
In the two-page warrant, Cabugao Regional Trial Court Branch 24 Judge Raphiel Alzate ordered the Philippine National Police and National Bureau of Investigation to arrest the mayor and 18 other accused in the cases.
“The Head of Office to whom this Warrant of Arrest is delivered for execution shall cause it to be executed within 10 days receipt thereof. Within 10 days after expiration of the period, the officer to whom it was assigned for execution shall make a return/report to the undersigned and in case of failure to execute the same, said officer shall state the reasons thereof,” read the order obtained by reporters from the DOJ.
A separate warrant was issued for the case of grave coercion against the mayor and several others.
The arrest warrant was issued after the DOJ found probable cause on the complaint filed by Virginia Ong stemming from the closure of the local government-owned Cabugao Beach Resort (CBR) in 2017.
The DOJ granted the petition for review filed by Ong and reversed the April 23, 2018 resolution of the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office that dismissed the charges for lack of probable cause.
With the granting of the petition for review, the DOJ in effect reinstated the original resolution in Jan. last year and the findings of probable cause by investigating Senior Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Adriano Cabida, which the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office reversed upon appeal by Cobangbang.
Ong said she, her son and some employees were forced to stay in the padlocked resort until the following day when their lawyer and the police arrived.
“While it is undisputed that the municipality owns the CBR, it is equally true that ‘the power of a property (has) no authority to use force and violence to eject alleged usurpers who were in prior possession of it. They must file the appropriate action is court and should not take the law into their own hands,” read the resolution signed by DOJ Undersecretary Deo Marco.
Records showed that Ong took over the CBR after the previous operator, with whom she was an industrial partner, filed a quit claim in 2016.
She continued paying the monthly rental, but the mayor objected to it and prompted the local government to pass a municipal ordinance to tap a new investor. / gsg
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