Quisumbing files graft case vs 7 Mandaue City dads who voted to affirm the controversial lease pact for hotel-occupied lots
MANDAUE CITY, Cebu— Mandaue City Mayor Gabriel Luis “Luigi” Quisumbing today, February 28, filed graft charges before the Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas against seven city councilors who affirmed on Wednesday the controversial lease agreement over a city-owned lot now occupied by Big Hotel.
Quisumbing decided to file the administrative and criminal charges for violation of Republic Act (RA) 3019 or Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices and Grave Misconduct against the seven councilors a day after the council voted 7-5 in favor of approving and adopting the report of the Committees on Assets and Properties and on Laws and Ordinances that “confirms, affirms and ratifies the validity and authority of the City Mayor to conform and approve the Deed of Assignment entered into between Katumanan Hardware and Cenore Corporation on March 14, 2013 as contained in the Memorandum of Agreement dated June 14, 2013.”
By making this vote, the council in effect affirmed the authority of then mayor Jonas Cortes to conform with the decision of Katumanan Hardware to assign the lot it leased from the city to Canore Corp., which built and operate Big Hotel and the Big Hotel Suites in the area.
The vote was made on the same day that Quisumbing ordered the two Big Hotel establishments shut down over the alleged irregular deed of assignment that was forged during the term of Cortes.
Named respondents in the complaint were Councilors Nenita Ceniza-Layese, Malcolm Sanchez, Cynthia Remedio, Carmelino “Jun” Del Mar Jr., Marie Immaline Cortes-Zafra, Dalie Mae Cabatingan and Ernie Manatad.
The seven councilors subject to Quisumbing’s complaint are known allies of Cortes, who is gunning to regain the city’s mayoral post by challenging Quisumbing in the elections this May.
Manatad, in a phone interview with Cebu Daily News Digital, said they are ready to face the charges and will just wait for the Ombudsman Visayas to furnish them a copy of the complaint.
CDN Digital tried to contact the other respondents but calls and private messages remain unanswered as of its writing.
The deed of assignment transferred the leasing rights of Katumanan Hardware Corp. over a 1.4-hectare city-owned lot in Barangay Tipolo, which the company leased in 2007.
The deed of assignment was earlier flagged by the Committee on Audit (COA), noting that Katumanan Hardware violated the provision of the lease agreement when it assigned its leasing rights to Cenore Corp. without the prior written approval of the city council.
The decision of the Cortes-allied majority in the council to approve the deed of assignment on Wednesday, February 27, would address the concern raised by COA, which has been cited by the Quisumbing administration as one of the reasons for shutting down Big Hotel.
In an earlier interview, Lawyer Elaine Bathan, Quisumbing’s executive secretary, said the closure of the hotel was to put an end to an “irregular and perceived to be anomalous” transaction that the city undertook in 2013.
The property was first leased to Katumanan Hardware in 2007, which was valid for 15 years. The lease term was extended to 25 years in 2013.
In March 2013, the property was subleased by Katumanan Hardware to Cenore Corp. which led to the development of the two hotels./elb
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