Tom sues Rama

Mylen P. Manto, Jean Marvette A. Demecillo (The Freeman) - November 26, 2014 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Former Cebu City south district congressman Tomas Osmeña has filed a civil case before the court against Mayor Michael Rama to stop him from allegedly ordering the demolition of the graves and niches within the Osmeña Mausoleum Property.

In his 11-page petition, Osmeña asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order to prevent Rama and the Cebu City council from taking any action and to issue a preliminary mandatory and prohibitory injunction to prevent the petition from becoming moot and academic.

“It is the strong contention of petitioner although there was indeed a resolution of the City of Cebu, there is nothing in the said resolution which authorized the respondent Mayor to destroy the cemetery and replace the same with a park,” the complaint read, adding Rama ordered the closure of the cemetery and gave the families of those buried there until November 30, 2014 to remove the bones of their departed relatives.

Apart from that, Osmeña said the Memorandum of Agreement that Rama signed with the Archdiocese of Cebu provided that the area of the cemetery shall be developed in order to “preserve the place and uphold its historical importance” and not destroyed.

Based on the document, Rama closed the cemetery on November 15, 2014.

The subject lot with 9,282 square meters located at M.J. Cuenco Avenue, Cebu City was previously owned by the Roman Catholic Church of Cebu City. Because of a Deed of Exchange with the City of Cebu, the lot is now presumably owned by the city government.

According to Osmeña the said property still remains under the name of the Roman Catholic Church of Cebu City. Osmeña was assisted by lawyer Benjamin Militar in the filing of petition for prohibition and injunction with TRO against the respondents.

This August, Osmeña said Rama announced through the media that he will convert the Osmeña Mausoleum Property, popularly known as the Doña Pepang Cemetery into a park. He allegedly ordered the voluntary demolition of the structures of informal settlers who have been occupying portions of the cemetery.

Osmeña however, said the destruction of the cemetery is beyond the powers of the mayor and that the demolition of the homes of the informal settlers without a court order violates the Constitution and Republic Act 7279 known as Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992.

He likewise asked the court to order Rama not to demolish the homes of the informal settlers and to order the City Council not to provide funds for the construction of a proposed park until conditions and mandates of the law have been obeyed.

Meanwhile, Rama said Osmeña should also file a complaint against himself since he was the one who wanted the development of the cemetery.

“Just to remind him, it’s not me wanting to develop it. It’s him. I am only in continuity,” Rama said.

“Iyaha man ‘ning ngalan, dili akoa. Nganong ako man ang ikiha niya? Nganong ako man?” Rama said, adding that he can show documents that it was Osmeña who signed the documents regarding the development of the cemetery when he was still mayor.

Rama is still determined to pursue the development of the place after the closure of the cemetery last November 15.

However, he said that Division for Welfare of the Urban Poor should conduct further consultative meetings with the affected families to discuss the proposed development.

Rama said that he wants to be present during the meetings with the affected families because he wants them to understand what the development can give to the city government.

Since the complaint was already filed, Rama said that he is directing City attorney Jerone Castillo to answer the case.

Castillo said that he still needs input from city administrator Lucelle Mercado and DWUP chief Collin Rosell regarding the cemetery.

“I requested a conference with Dr. Lucelle (Mercado) and Collin Rosell of DWUP so that I would be informed of the factual background of this case. Dili kaayo ko ka-comment unless makakuha nata og facts,” Castillo said.  —/BRP (FREEMAN)

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