Cebu News

Ex-cop questions Ciudad lot titles

Jean Marvette A. Demecillo/JMO - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - A resident of the area in Barangay Banilad, Cebu City where the P1.2 billion Ciudad project will be built has asserted that the title the Province of Cebu has on the property is “null and void”.

Rico Palcuto, former chief of the Regional Security Unit of the Philippine National Police, said the 300 parcels of lot where Ciudad set to be built were exempted from lease, sale or disposition by the province by virtue of Executive Order No. 20 issued by then Governor General Francis Burton Harrison.

This is reportedly because on March 15, 1957, President Ramon Magsaysay issued Proclamation No. 394, which revoked Executive Order No. 20 and declared the lots open to disposition by virtue of the Friar Lands Act.

“I consider it my legal obligation to inform you that the title of the Province of Cebu on the real property to be developed for the Ciudad project is null and void,” Palcuto said in a letter to Cebu City Councilors Gerardo Carillo and Margarita Osmeña.

He asked that the councilors consider the issues before granting any permit or clearance to any party for the commercial development of the “Banilad Friar Lands Estate”.

“There is no showing that Proclamation No. 394 has been repealed by another presidential proclamation or executive order. Thus, it is crystal clear that the titles of the Province of Cebu over these 300 lots, including the lot on which the Ciudad project is to be built, have no more legal bases for their issuance and existence,” Palcuto said.

 “That the Banilad Friar Lands Estate is governed by Act No. 1120 known as the Friar Lands Act enacted on April 26,1904, the third Whereas of which provides in part; ‘and provided further, that actual settlers and occupants at the time said lands area acquired by the government shall have preference over all others to lease, purchase, or acquire their holdings within such reasonable time as may be determined by said government,” he added.

Fifth Avenue Development Corporation is the proponent and developer of the mixed-use Ciudad project located on the P2.8-hectare province-owned lot.

Palcuto said he learned that FADC is yet to ask for the City Council’s nod on its development permit application since the legislative body has issued an ordinance for the moratorium of the project.

He also informed the City Council that he has filed a civil case complaint against FADC, the provincial government, and the Department of Environment and Resources-7 director to have the titles of the lands declared null and void and to have any development stopped.

Palcuto said he and his family are the actual occupants and possessors of a portion of government property lot 3-A-1-B since 1976 when he was still active in the police service. They have reportedly occupied the area for more than 50 years after they acquired it from one Cornelio Mercado.

The court has issued a transfer of certificate of title from Mercado to the Palcuto family.

He said he has already consigned in court P250,000 as partial payment since he wants to acquire the government property that he and his family are occupying for years.

The Province of Cebu first issued a build-transfer-operate agreement with FADC in September 2006 during the time of former governor, now Third District Representative Gwendolyn Garcia for the Ciudad project.

This, however, was not implemented because of the conflict between Garcia and then Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña. 

In September 2015, the Provincial Board granted Governor Hilario Davide III the authority to sign and execute an amended BTO with FADC.

Under the amended BTO, FADC reserve a 2,000-square meter area to be used as park and open space, and for it to shoulder the payment of the real property taxes instead of Capitol.  (FREEMAN)













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