The Supreme Court (SC) has acquitted businessman and former Panglao mayor Doloreich Dumaluan who was charged with graft for allegedly refusing without sufficient ground to grant a locational clearance to a resort seeking to expand its facilities in 2005.
In a nine-page resolution promulgated on December 7, 2022 but was only made public on Monday, the SC reversed its previous decision which affirmed Dumaluan’s conviction for violating Section 3(f) of the Republic Act 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The SC granted Dumaluan’s motion for reconsideration after finding merit in the former local chief executive’s contention that he had no authority to issue a locational clearance or certification to Bohol Resort Development, Incorporated (BRDI), former owner and operator of Bohol Beach Club.
“Since petitioner had no authority to issue the locational clearance/certification, his refusal to issue the same was therefore justified,” the Court said.
Prior to the SC’s reversal of its decision, the Sandiganbayan had found Dumaluan guilty and sentenced him to an indeterminate sentence of six years and one month, as minimum, to 10 years, as maximum.
Dumaluan was also perpetually disqualified from holding public office.
The SC affirmed the anti-graft court’s decision in a resolution dated June 10, 2020.
In his motion for reconsideration, Dumaluan, represented by his legal counsel Atty. Roland Inting, asserted that there was no existing statute nor an ordinance that vested in him the power to issue the clearance.
According to the SC, a locational clearance or certification may be issued by municipalities and cities which possessed approved comprehensive land use plans (CLUP) under Section 3 of Executive Order 72 Series of 1993.
However, Panglao did not have a CLUP at the time when BRDI applied for the clearance, rendering Dumaluan without authority to make such issuance.
“Thus, petitioner could not have derived from the said law his so-called duty or authority to act on, let alone, approve BBC’s application for locational clearance or certification prior to the issuance of such CL UP to the Municipality of Panglao,” the high court said.
The case against Dumalusan stemmed from BRDI’s application on May 5, 2005 for a locational clearance, a prerequisite for the issuance of a building permit.
BRDI sought the building permit for its construction of additional resort facilities.
Officials of the firm alleged that Dumaluan rejected their application despite their compliance with all the requirements for the issuance of the clearance.
The resort accused Dumaluan of blocking their application due to his own claim of the land in which BRDI planned to build their new facilities.
Dumaluan did not deny his claim over the land as he asserted that he bought it from one Felix Lorejo, an illegitimate son of Juan Dumaluan who owned the disputed property.