THE lawyer of Rep. Peter Unabia of the 1st District of Misamis Oriental yesterday defended the official from accusations of land grabbing, claiming that the lawmaker bought the disputed 18 hectares in Indahag 15 years ago for at least P3.350 million.
Lawyer Dale Bryan Mordeno faced reporters in a news conference following an order by the Office of the Ombudsman for Unabia to answer the complaint filed by couple Edward and Raida Layagon who claimed they were driven from their home and a property their family occupied for over 50 years.
Mordeno maintained that the disputed property in Sto. Niño, Indahag was bought by Unabia from its real owners in 2002, and that the Layagons have no legal right over the property.
“He (Edward) needs to understand that kining iyang cause hopeless na,” Mordeno said.
Diosdado Percasales, a former forester at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said the property was bought by Unabia from Sidney de Guzman and Jennifer Maliza.
The Layagons, according Percasales, failed to apply with the DENR despite being given “preferential rights” in a decision dated April 7, 2014.
“Ilang gi-waive ang ilang rights in favor sa mga rightful owners nga sila si de Guzman ug Maliza,” Percasales said.
Percasales is among the respondents in the complaint filed by the Layagons with the ombudsman. Incidentally, Percasales is related by affinity to Maliza who supposedly owned part of the disputed Indahag property.
The other respondents are Indahag barangay chairperson Melitona Patriana, barangay councilor Carmelito Damo, Prescillano Reyes, Liga ng mga Barangay-Gingoog president Robert de Lara, Lakay Opiano and Alex Raymund
In Sept. 7, Unabia and other respondents were ordered to submit their counter-affidavit in the criminal and administrative complaints filed by the Layagons.
They were accused of violating Article 282, 286 and 312 of the Revised Penal Code, Section 3(e) of RA 3019, and RA 7160, otherwise known as the Child Abuse Law.
They were also charged with conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, conduct unbecoming of public officials, grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct, and oppression. (nitz arancon)