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CEBU, Philippines – The Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutor’s Office has dismissed for lack of probable cause the March 23, 2022 perjury complaint filed by seven barangay captains against Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan.
“…there exists no sufficient ground to engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed,” read the resolution dated May 2 and signed by Acting City Prosecutor Allan G. Talisaysay
In February 2022, Association of Barangay Councilors (ABC) President and Bankal village chief Eduardo Cuizon and six other captains accused Chan of misusing funds meant for the COVID-19 response.
In their complaint filed with the Office of the Ombudsman – Visayas, the village chiefs said Chan took advantage of the pandemic by contracting furniture supplier Heritage Muebles Mirabile Export, Inc. to supply food and non-relief items for the city’s COVID-19 facility.
Chan and several city officials filed their own Joint Complaint-Affidavit on March 8, stating that Heritage’s Amended Articles of Incorporation allowed it to engage in wholesale and retail of goods, including non-food relief items and other COVID-19 supplies.
They also filed a case for perjury against the barangay captains on the same day for claiming that Heritage is not qualified to engage in such transaction.
On March 23, the captains filed another complaint, alleging that Chan, along with City Attorney James Sayson, and four other public officials also committed perjury in their joint complaint-affidavit.
“The 2020 Amended Articles of Incorporation of Heritage Muebles Mirabile Export, Inc., which was filed only on July 28, 2021, has not been approved by the Securities Exchange Commission as distinctly shown when you go to the webpage,” they said.
They added that the only Amended Articles of Incorporation that reflected was still from 2013—the same document that disqualifies Heritage from engaging in wholesale and retail of non-food relief items and COVID-19 supplies.
Despite this, the city prosecutor’s office still did not find enough grounds to charge Chan’s group with perjury due to two main reasons.
The decision said it cannot rule on Heritage’s ability to engage in the disputed transaction as there is a pending case at the Office of the Ombudsman that would determine the issue.
The city prosecutor also addressed the assertion that Chan’s party engaged in falsehood when it claimed Heritage’s Articles of Incorporation was amended on June 5, 2020 – since SEC records showed the firm filed the document only on July 28, 2021.
Talisaysay explained that Chan’s group merely referred to the latest Articles of Incorporation which they had on file—the document dated June 5, 2020.
“Therefore, respondents could not have willfully and deliberately asserted the subject matter if the same were only referred to an existing document,” read the resolution.
Chan said political rivals crafted the case to use it against him during the election season.
“Maayu na lang nga aduna kitay justice system nga kaantigo mutan-aw sa kung unsay sakto ug unsay hiwi,” he said in his Facebook post.
(Fortunately, we have a justice system that’s competent enough to see what’s right and what’s wrong)