CAGAYAN DE ORO (MDN digital, May18,8:45am) For evicting a family from their homes in 2013, the Sandiganbayan sentenced a town mayor of up to 10 years imprisonment after he was found guilty of three counts of grave coercion charges.
The Sandiganbayan identified the town mayor as Rommel Arnado of Kauswagan, Lanal del Norte.
Promulgated on April 26 and send to reporters, the first division of the Sandiganbayan claimed the mayor was found guilty of 3 counts of grave coercion as embodied on the Revised Penal Code under Article 286.
The decision reads that the anti-graft court of the Ombudsman's prosecution team carefully studied Arnado's case and established that he prevented the agrieved parties from staying in their property, despite of the fact that the family has presented a certificate of land title.
In fact, the prosecution continued, the eviction was still carried out even without the needed court order coupled with threats and intimidations.
The accused Arnado also admitted during the pre-trial conference of having participated in the removal of the complainants' shelters, and this deprived them of their rights to peaceful settlement of the disputed properties.
The co-accused of Arnado who remain at large was earlier ordered by the court that cases be also filed against them. They were Rey Camanian, a security officer at Kauswagan police unit and a certain Lauro Diputado, the town hall's casual employee. The court also ordered that said cases filed against the co-accused be archived as they remain at large at press time.
According to the charge sheets kept by the court, it was Camanian and Diputado as well as seven other John Doe's who evicted the houses of Osama, Ibra and Farhana Sambuat including their relatives in Barangay Tacub. The eviction, the charge said, were all based upon the orders of the principal accused Arnado.
Prior to the reported eviction, the Sambuat family was already claiming the ownership of the said land that were also claimed by businessmen Henry Dy, Voltaire Rovira and Sotero Trinidad. The disputed land was where the houses of the Sambuat were built for many years.
The Ombudsman also added in their reports that aside from driving the Sambuat Family with force and intimidation from their land, the co-accused and their cohorts also demolished the houses of the complainants and also took their material possessions.
In last May 13's midterm national and local elections, the accused Arnado ran again for mayor and was even reelected against his opponent. Arnado garnered 7,854 while his rival, Nestor Ortiz, Sr. only had 2,254 votes.