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Puerto Princesa gov’t asks detained vice mayor to return vehicles

 

PALAWAN, Philippines – The city government of Puerto Princesa reiterated its demand for Vice Mayor Luis Marcaida III, who is detained on drug-related charges, to return the 3 service vehicles issued to his office.

Records of the City General Services Office (CGSO) showed these vehicles include a Toyota Hi-Lux, an Isuzu D-Max, and a Nissan Navarra, worth a total of around P4 million.

CGSO head Tiburcio Magay told the media earlier this week that the city government had filed with the Ombudsman a case of malversation of public property against Marcaida in September.

“He (Marcaida) did not return the service vehicles despite the 3 demand letters we sent to him,” Magay said, calling the vice mayor “hard-headed.”

In September, his house was raided by anti-illegal drug authorities. Marcaida was found in possession of illegal drugs, firearms and explosives, but insisted it was a frame-up by his erstwhile ally but now bitter rival, Mayor Lucilo Bayron.

The malversation case is the latest in the strings of cases Marcaida is facing, along with a recall petition filed against him by Bayron’s supporters, who, earlier in October, barricaded the city hall for two weeks to block the re-implementation of the dismissal order against the mayor. (READ: Sedition complaint filed vs Puerto Princesa mayor, others)

City Legal Officer and Acting City Administrator Arnel Pedrosa, said Marcaida’s failure to return the government assets prompted them to file the malversation case.

“The failure of the Vice Mayor’s Office to account for the 3 vehicles after the period given in the demand gave rise to a presumption of malversation and that’s why the city government filed the case,” he told Rappler in a text message.

Once returned, the said service vehicles will be made available to Acting Vice Mayor Nancy Socrates.

Heeding the city council’s instruction, the CGSO also conducted an inventory of the office equipment at the vice mayor’s office, which will soon be filled in by Socrates.

Marcaida still performing functions

Marcaida’s spokesperson, Elmer Zita, said the recent case is nothing but another political harassment.

“What they’re doing is a display of selfishness to even more push Marcaida against the wall,” Zita told Rappler by phone. “They are greedy.”

Zita said the city government cannot oblige Marcaida to return the vehicles officially assigned to him because he remains a city government official despite being in detention.

“He cannot be obliged to turn over the property because he is still with the government as an elected public official and he is entitled to the utilization of this whatever government property,” Zita said.

“The DILG says it is still recognizing him as vice mayor, right? So the case will not hold water,” he added.

Zita said the public official is performing functions by giving instructions to his staff now holding office at the covered court of Barangay Tiniguiban in Puerto Princesa.

“These vehicles are being used by them in the delivery of public services,” he said. “They (city government officials) can only take these vehicles away from him if he’s already removed from office.”

Zita said the Ombudsman has yet to require them to respond to the case. – Rappler.com