The Sandiganbayan has acquitted two former municipal officials who ordered in 2011 the demolition of two houses built on the road leading to a relocation site in Tubay, Agusan del Norte.
Cleared of graft charges were former mayor Sadeka G. Tomaneng and former town engineer Christopher Noval Dagani in a decision written by Associate Justice Karl B. Miranda.
The prosecution claimed that Tomaneng and Dagani ordered the demolition of the houses of Johnny Cabalan and Luciano Selades Jr. on May 2, 2011 without legal or justifiable ground. As a result, it was alleged that the two houseowners suffered financial losses at P50,000 each without due process of law or court order.
In their defense, Tomaneng and Dagani told the court that the local government can demolish houses for being nuisance and also when constructed without building permits.
Siding with the two former officials, the Sandiganbayan said that the houses which were illegally constructed must be demolished under the law.
Due process was complied with when the two officials sent notices and letters for Cabalan and Selades to coordinate with the municipal engineer’s office for the proper relocation of the houses, the court said.
The court pointed out that the demolition is authorized by the law even without a court order, considering that their houses occupied “danger areas” and were classified as “dangerous or ruinous buildings or structures.”
“In these cases, the evidence of the prosecution failed to prove beyond the point of moral certainty the guilt of Tomaneng and Dagani of the crime of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019,” the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the court ruled.
Associate Justices Sarah Jane T. Fernandez and Kevin Narce B. Vivero concurred in the decision.