Facing a prison term of more than six years, Leonilo C. Lafuente, president of the Capitol Valley Homeowners Association Inc., in a last ditch attempt to avoid imprisonment expressed his willingness to work out an amicable settlement with a relative of his wife who accused him of estafa in a bungled land deal involving an amount of PhP165,000.00.
But, the victim, Luz Nioda, a public school teacher, “vehemently opposed” Lafuente’s offer dismissing it as “another vain attempt to further delay the disposition of the case.”
Lafuente broke his silence after a Regional Trial Court (RTC) convicted him for the crime of estafa and ordered his imprisonment for defrauding Nioda of her right to build a house in a 300 sq.m. lot located in Capitol Valley, Barangay Dao, Tagbilaran City.
In an emotional interview over DYRD “Inyong Alagad”, Lafuente made an offer to refund Nioda half or even the whole amount of the alleged balance to avoid a potential prison term.
Lafuente was referring to an alleged difference of PhP1,000.00/sq.m. amounting to PhP300,000.00 that Nioda failed to pay since she constructed her house in a lot that was priced at PhP1,500.00/sq.m.
Lafuente claimed that Nioda was originally awarded a 300 sq.m. lot in Phase 4 at PhP500.00/sq.m. but allegedly build a house without the consent of the association’s Technical Coordinator on a lot in Phase 3 valued at PhP1,500.00/sq.m.
Lafuente also rued the speed in which the court ruled against him since both parties were on the verge of an amicable settlement in the arbitration committee.
FAILURE TO APPEAR
But the court chided Lafuente for his failure to appear and present any witness or documentary evidence on four court hearings that pushed the presiding judge to rule in favor of Nioda.
Nioda, in her opposition to the motion of Lafuente to set aside the judgment and/or reconsideration/retrial and allow the accused to present evidence for his own defense, recalled numerous occasions that Lafuente refused to settle.
Nioda said that prior to the filing of the complaint in 2013, she exerted “utmost efforts to settle amicably but Lafuente was “adamant and refused to comply with such demands.”
According to Nioda, even on the day of the promulgation of judgment, Lafuente did not oppose the promulgation but instead appealed to the court to defer the reading of the judgment to another date in the “hope” for another possible settlement.
Lafuente, according to Nioda opted not to testify in court despite four opportunities and did not show any willingness to present evidence despite stern warnings from the court.
“Guilty beyond reasonable doubt”, RTC Branch 2 Presiding Judge Jennifer Chavez-Marcos imposed on June 13, 2017 an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of two years and four months in prison correccional minimum to six years and two months of prison mayor minimum plus an additional thirteen years and ten months pursuant to Article 315 (1) of the Revised Penal Code.
Nioda went to court after Lafuente failed to execute a deed of sale for the purchase of a 300 sq.m. lot valued at PhP500/sq.m. designated as lot no. 3080-B-6-A situated at Capitol Valley, Barangay Dao.
According to Nioda, she made six staggered payments to Lafuente in a span of nine months starting in May 2009 with the final payment in January 2010 with all transactions covered by official receipts under Capitol Valley Homeowners Association Inc.
The court has set a hearing on the motion for reconsideration filed by Lafuente on the last week of August and will be keenly followed by disgruntled lot buyers allegedly victimized by Lafuente.
The Office of the City Mayor is now taking a hand on the numerous complaints of the members of the Association after the death of a child allegedly due to dengue infected mosquitoes blamed on stagnant waters in the pot holed streets of the village.
Nioda is assisted by the Tinampay Legal Clinic with Atty. J. Albert Tinampay, Atty. Heidi Oracion, CPA, Atty. Bryan Pelandas and Atty. Bryan Tan. (Chito M. Visarra)