July 16, 2024

The tiff between Mayor Benjamin Magalong and Councilor Mylen Yaranon that started in July has reached the City Prosecutor’s Office with the latter suing the former for libel and slander.
However, the complaint will be investigated by a prosecutor outside Baguio after City Prosecutor Conrado Catral Jr., in an indorsement addressed to OIC Deputy Regional Prosecutor Christopher Soriano, said the CPO will be inhibiting to avoid insinuations of undue influence, suspicion, and partiality as the parties involved are officials of Baguio.
The CPO indorsement was dated Oct. 11 but Yaranon only filed her complaint on Oct. 12.
In her complaint, Yaranon said Magalong has besmirched her reputation as a person and a public official when he alleged in a speech delivered in the July 4 flag-raising ceremony at the City Hall grounds that she was politicking and twisted information about the city government’s preparation of a master plan for the area where the Bibak dormitory along Harrison Road used to stand.
Magalong subsequently released an open letter in his official social media account, refuting Yaranon’s statement. He said the councilor misinformed the public for there is no final agreement yet with the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples regarding the development at the Bibak area.
The DENR is the owner of the lot, while the NCIP is the administrator of the Cordillera Regional Assembly building – the structure that replaced the dormitory.
Yaranon’s social media post shared a picture of former vice president Leni Robredo signing an agreement for the establishment of a dormitory for indigent students in Quezon and wrote a caption that stated, in part: “Dormitory for indigent school children. We used to have Bibak too, in Baguio, but it has been demolished to pave way for some commercial and modernized parking for those who can afford cars, a joint project of the DENR and the city government under the current administration.”
Magalong reacted to Yaranon’s post in his July 4 speech alleging the latter was politicking by supporting two candidates for president, and she never raised a finger when the group of architects whom she tapped to design the master plan for the market asked for 10 percent fee out of the total project cost.
Yaranon responded to the mayor’s allegations in a privilege speech on July 17. She said her post was an expression of her desire for the city government to consider providing a dormitory for students, which is more important than a structure for cars and tourists.
But their spat did not end there when the councilor filed libel and slander complaints against the mayor.
Apart from the penalties prescribed by law for the crimes she alleges the mayor committed, Yaranon asked for a compensation of P500,000 for moral damages; P150,000 attorney’s fees, and P3,000 per appearance fee in case the complaint prospers into a full-blown case.
Yaranon said the mayor attacked and discredited her reputation as a public official and as a person by insinuating that she is unprincipled and does not act on matters of public interest. She added, the mayor also accused her of things unrelated to her social media post.
By posting an open letter on social media, Yaranon said she was at the receiving end of hate comments from the public which resulted in her having anxiety, depression, and sleepless nights.
She belied the mayor’s allegation about a group of architects “demanding” for a 10 percent fee from the market development. Yaranon said majority of the members of the technical working group who prepared the market master plan are under the supervision of the mayor and are unaware of the supposed fee being asked for.
She said the mayor’s imputations were malicious hence her filing of the complaint.
Magalong is currently in the United States for the city’s renewal of sisterhood ties but a staff member said he will not comment yet pending receipt of an official copy of the complaint. – Rimaliza A. Opiña