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Freeman Metro Cebu

Trader seeks redress from ombuds: Mayor turning down estate tax payments?

Christell Fatima M. Tudtud - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - A businessman is seeking remedy from the Office of the Ombudsman after the municipal government of Cordova allegedly declined to accept his real property tax payments since 2010.

Mario Cabahug, 66, a businessman based in Lapu-Lapu City, sent a letter to the Visayas Ombudsman accusing Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy of “unfair treatment.”

The agency confirmed receiving Cabahug’s letter last March 10.

In his letter, Cabahug alleged that the mayor issued directives to the Municipal Treasurer’s Office not to accept payments for the real property taxes of his shoreline property in Barangay Alegria, Cordova.

Sitoy reportedly issued the orders in March 2010, May 2012 and November 2014, preventing Cabahug and other owners of properties in Cordova’s Lava and Tongo islands from making real estate tax payments.

Cabahug was supposed to develop the area into a marine sanctuary that would feature Cordova’s famous “bakasi” or eels.

He said Korean businessmen are also interested in putting up a school within the premises.

“This has been emotionally draining for me. I already have plans and followed the process,” he said, calling this “a painful experience to a small and medium entrepreneur.”

AUTHORIZED?

In 1992, Cabahug said, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-7 granted him a foreshore lease, giving him authority to develop the 1.7-hectare area for commercial purposes.

Sitoy allegedly contended that Cabahug “illegally reclaimed the area.”

In 2009, the mayor filed an illegal reclamation case before DENR-7 and appealed the decision in August 2011 after the agency “denied” his case and favored Cabahug.

That following month, Sitoy reportedly filed a motion for reconsideration before DENR-7 but was similarly “dismissed.”

DESTROYED

Cabahug said some of the property’s structures built in 2009 were destroyed by men who would reportedly sneak in at night when the caretakers were away or asleep.

“I suspected someone hired the men to destroy the structures, which included riprap,” Cabahug said.

He even sought help from the Police Regional Office-7 because “Cordova police were not doing enough to protect his property.”

“The PRO-7 caught 14 suspects who admitted they were Sitoy’s men,” he claimed.

Sitoy denied these allegations.

ANOTHER  APPEAL

In a phone interview with The FREEMAN, Sitoy remained firm that the reclamation was illegal.

He did not, however, provide further details explaining why.

But he said Cabahug’s property may be affected once the proposed coastal highway project in Cordova is approved.

The mayor also said he has yet to receive a copy of the decision from DENR-7 denying the motion for reconsideration he filed, adding that he is ready to appeal the case before the agency’s central office. (FREEMAN)

BARANGAY ALEGRIA

CABAHUG

CORDOVA

CORDOVA MAYOR ADELINO SITOY

DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES

LAPU-LAPU CITY

LAVA AND TONGO

MARIO CABAHUG

MUNICIPAL TREASURER

SITOY

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