BAGUIO CITY – The City Council appealed to the officials of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) to reconsider the case filed against Punong Barangay Maribel A. Estacion of Camp Allen.
In a dialogue with two PMA delegates, the councillors sought reconciliation between the Punong Barangay and the complainant, Lt. Gen. Ronnie S. Evangelista.
Evangelista, the superintendent of the military base at Camp Henry T. Allen, filed a case against Estacion before the office of the Ombudsman regarding the construction of the barangay hall extension. Evangelista alleged that Estacion had allowed the entry of construction materials despite the disapproval of her request. He asserted that the land is titled and is exclusive for military purposes only.
The councillors expressed concern over the welfare of the punong barangay.
“She was only doing her duty as a punong barangay. In fact, she would be charged with dereliction of duty if she didn’t pursue the construction because there’s a program of work approved by the mayor. Is there a possibility of withdrawing the case against her?” Councillor Betty Lourdes Tabanda asked.
Councillor Michael Lawana also made an oral motion urging the PMA to withdraw the case against the punong barangay “with consideration for a win-win solution.”
Maj. Gerald Cabrera and Maj. Reynan Afan, the PMA delegates, said they will discuss the matter with their superintendent and their camp commander.
Asked about his stand on the case, Acting City Legal Officer Melchor Carlos Rabanes stated that the punong barangay could invoke the equal protection of the laws if it was proven that the PMA officials had been tolerating the construction of other establishments in the area. Rabanes added that he would provide legal counsel but could not represent Estacion in court by virtue of existing laws. Meanwhile, Estacion was advised to prepare her defenses.
“Hindi po ako nasabihan. May natanggap na lang po akong sulat galing sa Ombudsman,” the disgruntled punong barangay said in response to Vice Mayor Olowan’s question if she was given notice by the PMA officials before they took the case to the office of the Ombudsman.
Olowan reminded both parties that, in order to avoid exacerbating issues on encroachment in the area, proper communication and coordination should take place so as to inform each other of their plans, projects, or actions. He further stressed the importance of a courtesy call emphasizing that they both “belong to one and the same community.”/Jordan G. Habbiling