Dagupan mayor faces graft charges

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A company has filed graft cases against top officials of Dagupan before the Ombudsman in Quezon City.

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AMB ALC Holdings & Management Corp. charged Mayor Belen Fernandez of Dagupan and city Treasurer Romelita Alcantara of violating Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Grave Misconduct and Conduct Grossly Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service.”

The complaint stems from the officials’ refusal to issue a mayor’s permit to the company so it can run its business in Dagupan.

Earlier, the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon ordered Dagupan city Engr. Ma. Virginia Rosario to explain her “unusual conduct” towards AMB ALC in its application for a building permit in the locality for the construction and renovation of a property that the firm owns.

The order came following an earlier complaint filed by AMB ALC over Rosario’s refusal to issue such permit to the firm.

Benjie Ramos, a top official of AMB ALC, said the three officials violated certain rights of the company he’s working for.

“After having seen the ‘big picture,’ so to speak, I now file this Supplemental Complaint-Affidavit to include and implead the herein additional respondents, who, by their previous acts as already discussed in the first complaint, and their subsequent acts as herein further discussed, have clearly and unmistakably demonstrated unity with and active participation in the acts of Engr. Rosario, in a grand criminal design, uniformly addressed to and geared at impairing and crippling, at all costs, the exercise of AMB ALC of its rights over its properties and business,” Ramos stated in his affidavit.

Ramos said that despite AMB ALC’s submission of all pertinent documents and fulfilling all requirements including the payment of building fee, the city engineer still refused to issue the building permit due the company allegedly upon the instruction of Fernandez.

Meanwhile, Alcantara was reportedly harassing CityState Bank, one of the companies of AMB ALC situated on its Dagupan property, with constant threat of closure because it had no mayor’s permit.

Before CityState Bank can get a mayor’s permit, it should have a building permit first which Fernandez allegedly ordered Engr. Rosario not to issue to AMB ALC.

On Jan. 24, 2014, CityState Bank opted to apply for a mayor’s permit through Dagupan’s One-Stop Business Center but was denied because it has no “certificate of occupancy,” but the subject certificate should have been released together with the building permit stalled by Rosario.

Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, counsel for AMB ALC, said Alcantara was also highly suspect in returning the checks paid by AMB ALC to the Dagupan City Hall to cover the taxes of the company’s property in the locality.

Topacio said the three are clearly in collaboration to cripple a business enterprise because of politics.

AMB ALC bought the property from the Dagupan city government after a public “sealed bid” auction held on January 7, 2013 where AMB ALC won the bid.

The Deed of Absolute Sale was released on Jan. 22, 2013 and signed by then Mayor Benjamin Lim of Dagupan City on the part of the local government.

Lim is known in the province as the archrival of Fernandez in local politics.

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