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CA affirms MeTC ruling on perjury rap vs CJHDevCo lawyer

Top executives of state-run Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) won round two of their legal fight arising from alleged “untruthful statements and false accusations” made by a chief legal counsel of the Sobrepeña-led CHJ Development Corporation (CJHDevCo).

The Court of Appeals’ (CA) Fourteenth Division of Manila denied the motion filed by CJHDevCo lawyer Manual T. Ubarra Jr. seeking to overturn the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) finding  that there was probable cause to hold the lawyer liable for the crime of perjury. 

In its 12-page decision, the appeals court said “the appeal is devoid of merit.” The CA decision stated that “we have reviewed the records and see no error on the part of pubic respondent [MeTC Judge Rolando Dennis G. Molina] in sustaining the MeTC’s findings of probably cause for the issuance of the arrest warrant against petitioner [Ubarra].”

The CA decision further explained that “the METC correctly found that the Investigating Prosecutor had carefully and meticulously scrutinized the Complaint-Affidavit and the accompanying documents that Atty. Ubarra, Jr. submitted, on behalf of CJHDC, against appellee Casanova and the other directors of the BCDA before the Ombudsman; and from his evaluation, it was convincingly shown that Atty. Ubarra had, in fact, made several untruthful statements  and false accusations against appellee Casanova that would constitute the crime of Perjury.” 

It would be recalled that Ubarra as the Vice President for Litigation of CJHDevCo, filed a Complaint-Affidavit with the Ombudsman charging BCDA President and CEO Arnel Paciano D. Casanova and other directors of the BCDA of failing to promptly reply on letters and requests from the public within fifteen days from receipt thereof, in violation of Sec. 5 (a) of RA No. 6713. 

Responding to Ubarra’s complaint, Casanova said Ubarra’s allegations were false because he was not yet the President and CEO of the BCDA when the letters were sent and therefore he could not have replied to the letters. 

In his Complaint-Affidavit, Ubarra mentioned that it took sixty days before Casanova replied to the letter he sent on 29 December 2009.

Casanova argued that he assumed office as BCDA President and CEO on April 15, 2011. The letters that CJHDevCo sent were addressed to Mr. Aloysius L. Santos and Gen Narciso L Abaya (Ret) then the Chairman and President & CEO of BCDA respectively. 

Casanova also said that the reply letter of Ubarra’s March 01, 2010 was signed by then President and CEO Abaya.  He added that Ubarra’s May 28, 2010 letter was addressed to President Abaya.

Feeling aggrieved by the untruthful aspersions, Casanova filed a criminal complaint for Perjury against Ubarra.