Jojo Robles | The Standard PH | July 25, 2016

Speaking of strange court actions, I've been told that the head of a government corporation used three estafa cases that had been dismissed four years ago in order to discredit a private businessman with whom he had been feuding in court. The three cases filed by Bases Conversion and Development Authority head Arnel Casanova were used to discredit Camp John Hay Development Corp. Chairman Robert John Sobrepeña even if these had already been dismissed for lack of probable cause as early as 2012 by the Justice department.

Notifications of the dismissal of the estafa cases were issued only last month in June 2016, four years after the cases were recommended for junking in 2012. "Why did the DoJ sit on all these obviously nuisance complaints for four excruciating years, when it took only a few months to recommend their dismissal due to lack of merit and probable cause?" asked CJHDevCo executive Alfredo Yñiguez.

The case against Sobrepeña for estafa filed by the BCDA on March 9, 2012 was recommended for dismissal by DoJ Prosecutor Monica Liwag for lack of probable cause in a resolution dated Aug. 28, 2012. But the respondents were only notified with copies of the resolution of dismissal last June 22.

In this case, Casanova accused Sobrepeña of twice selling a log cabin in Camp John Hay for P40 million. Casanova even caused the publication of full-page ads that claimed the developer was engaged in fraudulent business practices.

In another case for estafa filed on April 23, 2012, several complainants were allegedly persuaded to purchase land in Camp John Hay on the basis of false representations by CJHDevCo that its lease with the BCDA was for 50 years. This case was recommended for dismissal by DoJ prosecutor Caterina Isabel Caeg on July 16, 2012, but the parties were notified with copies of the resolution also only four years later, or on June 17, 2016.

In the third case against Sobrepeña, filed by Kim Sung Hwan on April 23, 2012, the complainant was supposedly persuaded to purchase a unit in Camp John Hay Suites, now called The Forest Lodge, on the same basis of CJHDevCo’s 50-year lease with the BCDA. This case was also recommended for dismissal by Prosecutor Caeg for lack of probable cause in a resolution dated July 27, 2012.

The same thing happened. Again, Sobrepeña and other respondents were only notified with copies of the resolution four years later, or only last June 17.

"It was obviously more like persecution and not prosecution," Yñiguez said. "With the dismissal of these trumped up charges, I hope we can now all move on for the benefit of all of the stakeholders, the City of Baguio and the general public."