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CPA goes to court over Compania Maritima

CEBU, Philippines - The Cebu Port Authority (CPA) has filed a civil case against Cebu City to stop the latter from interfering with CPA’s rights over its property.

CPA filed the case on behalf of the national government.

“Having been granted, by law, administration and beneficial use of the entire Baseport of Cebu, the CPA has the right to be in peaceful possession of the Compania Maritima premises and the legal authority to make any improvements or construction on the premises without interference from local government units like defendant City of Cebu,” the complaint reads.

CPA, through the Office of the Solicitor General, said that under the Charter of the Cebu Port Authority, the operation and maintenance of port facilities in the province, including those in Cebu City and Compania Maritima lie with the agency.

In June 2012, however, Mayor Michael Rama ordered the concrete perimeter fence surrounding the Compania Maritima building demolished without getting CPA’s consent.

“The events that transpired thereafter showed defendant City Mayor’s blatant disregard for CPA’s property and authority within its territorial jurisdiction,” the complaint further read, adding under RA 7621, CPA has the power, among others to license, control, regulate, supervisee any construction or structure within any Port District,” CPA said.

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The act of Cebu City was illegal because it usurped CPA’s property.

In July 2013, CPA learned through news reports that the city has started claiming ownership of the Compania Maritima premises as evidenced by an alleged tax declaration certificate over the property issued by the city’s acting city assessor.

CPA said that the tax declaration contradicted its previous actions, which re-cognized CPA’s authority and jurisdiction over Compania Maritima when the city asked for CPA’s permission to use the premises.

“There is a pressing and urgent necessity for a TRO and injunctive relief that compelled plaintiff to resort to the present complaint. Defendants have been using the subject property as parking space for its employees. There has also been a gnawing threat of demolition should CPA attempt to restore the concrete perimeter fence that defendants destroyed,” the complaint reads.

CPA said the tax declaration issued under the name of the City of Cebu is “an invalid assertion of ownership over a property which is clearly a property of public domain.”

Named defendants are City of Cebu, Mayor Michael Rama, and Eustaquio Cesa in his capacity as acting city assessor of Cebu.


“Are they declaring war against the (Cebu) City government?” Rama said during his regular press conference yesterday.

“That building when it was ugly, it was my office that made it better looking,” he said.

Compania Maritima is a three-level building built in 1910 on reclaimed land at the port area named the Fernandez building. It was occupied by the Shamrock Hotel during the pre-war and was later leased by the Compania Maritima to house its corporate offices.

Rama previously expressed his desire to develop the century-old building into an art museum or maritime museum before this year ends.

When he visited the site on April 17, Rama said that he plans to restore the building and put up a mosaic of historical areas in Cebu on its windows and other art works, depending on the occasion. Rama said the plans have to be carried out by December.

Rama said the city government is the custodian of all the properties in the city “but ownership of the property never belonged to CPA,” Rama said. — Mylen P. Manto and May B. Miasco/JMO (FREEMAN)


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