Briton sues mayor, two town policemen

Mylen P. Manto, Michael Vencynth H. Braga/RHM (The Freeman) - March 6, 2015 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Sta. Fe, Bantayan Island Mayor Jose Esgana and two town policemen are facing charges before the office of the Ombudsman-Visayas for allegedly arresting and detaining a British national last year.

Assisted by lawyer Loreto Durano, Christopher Paul Alexander filed a complaint for violation of Section 15 of Republic Act (RA) 6770 (An Act Providing for the Functional and Structu-ral Organization of the Office of the Ombudsman, and for Other Purposes) in relation to Section 3 (b) of RA 3019 (Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act) for direct bribery, arbitrary detention, unlawful arrest, and perjury, and of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code against Esgana, SPO4 Carlos Condido and PO3 Marino Cajes.

In his complaint, Alexander alleged that prior to his arrest on September 20, 2014 for direct assault, occupation of real property or usurpation of real right and malicious mischief, he inquired sometime in December 2013 about renting some land at the old airfield in the town to put up a temporary hangar for his private aircraft.

He contacted Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) about the matter. He came to know that the piece of land he wanted to use was a private land.

Thus, Alexander said he contacted a realty broker to seek out some land at the airport which he could be used to house a hangar. He added the realty broker put him in touch with the owners identified as David and Marialaw.

He said he handed over P48,000 to David and Marialaw for a one-year lease and paid P10,000 to the realty broker.

Alexander said that because some people have access to the land he rented, he had it blocked off. He said there was an agreement that he would access the land from the old airfield entrance and restore the old entrance road which at that time was covered with shrubs.

He said he purchased several truckloads of gravel to make the road usable and sought another meeting with CAAP to express his concerns over the property. After that meeting, he was given the suggestion to consider a public, private partnership (PPP) with the operator of the airfield.

Alexander said he made proposal but was surprised when Esgana allegedly told him not to deal with either of the CAAP or the Mactan Cebu International Airport or the Cebu Governor’s Office because the mayor would like a PPP and could facilitate its approval.

“He asked and solicited the sum of P1 million for a 25-year lease. I was polite and pleasant but confused,” he said.

He was later told that he was trespassing on government property and arrested and detained by the police upon Esgana’s orders “without reason whatsoever.”

This, he said, was despite him telling them he had papers for the lease agreement. He was allegedly called a ‘scammer” or one who scams people.

He also alleged that he was denied access to their embassy on the day of his arrest.

Alexander was arrested for allegedly starting to construct a fence around the Sta. Fe airstrip and claiming ownership of the facility, which is owned by the Cebu provincial government.

The criminal complaint for malicious mischief and usurpation of public property that was filed against Alexander was dismissed by the Cebu Provincial Prosecutor’s Office for lack of evidence.

Alexander asked for the preventive suspension of the respondents.

Sought for comment, Esgana denied asking money from Alexander supposedly for a 25-year lease of the airfield, saying he never had any transaction with the British national.

In a phone interview, Esgana told The Freeman that said he only saw Alexander when the latter went to his office September 2 last year but that they did not talk since he was having a meeting that time.

Esgana said he met Alexander again only when he allegedly confronted him at the airfield after learning of the ongoing construction of a fence, when Alexander allegedly claimed ownership of the facility.

“Asa man ni dapita nagkaestorya about ana? Dakong binuang nang iyaha,” Esgana said.

He said he was contemplating of filing countercharges against Alexander for the “false accusations.”

“Dako ni nga damage dinhi sa ako as a mayor. Mo-consult ko sa akong abogado. File-lan nako og libel or unsa ba,” he said.  (FREEMAN)



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