Today's Punto
Today's Punto
Ex-mayor fined, disqualifi ed from public office
By Armand M. Galang

Jan 11, 2018

SAN JOSE CITY - A former three-term mayor of this northern Nueva Ecija city was slapped with perpetual disqualification to hold public office by the Office of the Ombudsman for supposed grave misconduct in putting up government facilities on a piece of land of her brother without authentic deed of donation.

Considering that the penalty of dismissal from office can no longer be enforced as she is already separated from the service, former Mayor Marivic Belena was also ordered to pay fine “in an amount equivalent to (her) salary for one year” on top of cancellation of her eligibility and forfeiture of retirement benefits.

In a six-page decision signed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, Belena was found guilty on charges of grave misconduct under OMB-L-16-0403 filed by former barangay chairman Romulo Valenton, Jr. of Barangay Tondod here on June 17, 2016.

The Ombudsman though dismissed the charges of conduct prejudicial to the best inter- est of the service, gross neglect of duty, and serious dishonesty against Belena under the same case title for lack of merit.

The decision was dated November 10, 2017 but was received by complainant Valenton only last Jan.9.

The case stemmed from the construction of a Children’s Rehabilitation Center on land covered by TCT No. 048- 13086 registered in the name of spouses Joseph Gilbert Violago and Micaela Salvador.

Violago, a former congressman of the province’s second district is Belena’s brother. The facility was formally inaugurated in July 2012.

In her affidavit, Belena said the land was do- nated by her brother to the city government to fulfill the wish of their father, the late Rep. Eleuterio Violago, “to establish a rehabilitation center for children in conflict with law and a decent low-cost housing for the constituents” of this city.

She was authorized to accept the deed of donation under Sangguniang Panlungsod Resolution 10-040 dated Nov. 24, 2010, according to Belena.

It turned out however that Micaela’s name was misspelled to “Michaela” , prompting the city government to send back the document to Violago’s office for correction, the former mayor told the Ombudsman.

Nonetheless, the city government proceeded with the construction. In 2015, Belena explained, she sent demand letters to Violago asking him to return the deed of donation but to no avail. The city government, she claimed, maintains their ownership of the land.

But Belena failed to convince the Ombudsman that property now belonged to the city government.

“The best or primary evidence of a donation of a real property is an authentic copy of the dead of donation with all the formalities required by Article 749 of the Civil Code,” the Ombudsman said.

The SP resolution is not enough to prove the actual existence of the deed of donation, it added.

“Respondent’s sending of demand letters to her brother for the re- turn of the alleged deed of donation made after almost three years from the inauguration of the Center in 2012 betrays her awareness that the Center was constructed without the deed of donation having been perfected,” the Ombudsman stressed, adding Violago remained the land owner to date.

The Ombudsman said that being owner of the property, Violago had the right to appropriate the improvement as his own, after payment of indemnity, or oblige the city government to pay rent.

The Ombudsman said the operation and continued existence of the center is “therefore placed at the mercy of the landowners who is conferred by the law the right of accession.”

Efforts to reach Belena to get her comment on the decision proved futile but sources close to her said she would file a motion for reconsideration.

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