BSL’s heirs made co-defendants in Awai land case

THE heirs of former Dagupan Mayor Benjamin Lim have been named respondents in the case as substitute to the late mayor who was charged in a civil case in connection with the alleged fraud that tainted the Awai land deal, in lieu of him.

This after the Regional Trial Court Branch 42 presided by Judge Junius Dalaten granted the motion of the city of Dagupan to include the legal heirs as substitute and deemed participants to the civil case.

A briefer on the RTC order from City Legal Officer Geraldine Francisco stated that to ensure that the city of Dagupan can still recover the P16.12 million lost in the fraudulent purchase of the Awai land, the city government moved to cause the deceased former Mayor Lim to be substituted in the case by his heirs, namely Ms. Cecilia Lim, Vice Mayor Marc Brian Lim and Ms. Irene Lim, who will be made to represent the estate of the late former Mayor Lim.

As substitute legal representative in the said case, the heirs of former Mayor Lim are now deemed as direct participants in the case.

This was contained in an order dated March 7, 2019, a copy of which was obtained by THE PUNCH before deadline.

Lim and his alleged crony Jose Mariano Cuña were the original defendants in Civil Case No. 2018-0005-D. But since Lim died January 16, 2019, few days after the case was filed, the plaintiff filed a Manifestation and Motion to substitute the deceased defendant.

The civil case asked the defendants to just return the P16.12 million paid for the land, including its accrued interests at 12 percent per annum.

This means that should the RTC find sufficient evidence against former Mayor Lim, only their inheritance in his estate will be covered by the judgment.

Records of the case showed it was Cuña who sold the property to the city of Dagupan for P16.12 million in March 2002, after buying the same from one Estrella Sangalang of San Jacinto on December 18, 2001 for P7 million in a span of just four months.

The transaction was not consummated with the transfer of the title because the Department of Agrarian Reform declared the property as under an agricultural leasehold contract with tenants, making the deed of sale executed by parties void from the beginning.

Consequently, the city of Dagupan, despite paying P16.12-M, could not use the property for its intended purpose as a sanitary landfill for the city.  (Leonardo Micua) 

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