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SRP lots sale valid

Mylen P. Manto, Jean Marvette A. Demecillo (The Freeman) - November 25, 2015 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The resolution of the Cebu City Council that allowed Mayor Michael Rama to sell lots at the South Road Properties does not violate the city ordinance that governs the management of the SRP.

This was the ruling of the court in the civil case filed by former prosecutor Romulo Torres against the Council.

“Cebu City Resolution No. 13-0418-2014, vesting authority to the City Mayor of Cebu City to negotiate and dispose by sale through public bidding to any interested and qualified parties, the City-owned lot known as Lot No. 8…being merely an implementing resolution, cannot be construed to be in conflict with said ordinance. Corollary, there is no iota of doubt that Cebu City Resolution No. 13-0418-2014 is valid,” read the order of Regional Trial Court Judge Alexander Acosta.

In line with this, Acosta said the transactions involving the conveyance of the properties at the SRP were “legal and valid.”

August this year, the city government earned at least P8.35 billion from the sale of lots at the SRP.

“It is worth to emphasize that Cebu City Resolution No. 13-0418-2014 has imposed conditions to be complied by the qualified bidders for the purpose of actively generating income in and from operations in the SRP not for speculation and appreciation of the value for real estate,” the order reads further.

SB-1

It can be recalled that the council put on hold the approval of the P2.8 billion proposed Supplemental Budget-1 pending the court’s ruling in Torres’ case.

This was because the money from SRP sale was identified as source of fund for the additional budget and majority of the councilors feared the same might cause trouble in case the court finds the sale invalid. 

With the court’s ruling, Rama hopes that the Council would finally approve SB-1, which contains the P87 million budget for garbage fee, P77 million for the productivity enhancement incentives for employees, and P2.3 billion prepayment of SRP reclamation project, among others.

“I wish, dili nako kinahanglan pa mag-appeal (to the City Council). I do not have to be requesting, let them listen to the people’s desire,” Rama said.

“Ang pinaka-importante, nakadaog. Pasabot, we have basis and we have always been telling that, that case will never get into the first phase. We are only standing on the principle of the rule of law. We knew that there was nothing violated and the rule should prevail,” he added.

City Attorney Jerone Castillo said there is no more reason for the council not to deliberate on SB-1.

“There is no reason for the budget to be delayed any further as to the deliberation. We have been very consistent that Romulo has no case, the intervenor has no case, it has no legal impediment on the tackling of that budget. To us, it is close. If it is dismissed, wala nanay merit,” Castillo said.

Majority Floor Leader Margarita Osmeña said the council is yet to get an official copy of the court’s order.

“I really don’t know. We still have to wait until we get an official copy. Plus, what is the implication? Does it end ba there? Is it final and executory?” she said yesterday.

She said she would ask Castillo to apprise the council on the implication of the court’s ruling, especially on the possibility of Torres fighting it out with a motion for reconsideration.

“Maybe it is just a comma. Is this a period? Or a comma? Or a colon? Or whatever? Does it end here?” she said.

Castillo said, “Basically, wala may legal impediment because there is no TRO issued. It is dismissal on the main case, basically there is no legal impediment for us not to use the money.”

Case

Torres, a resident of Sitio Panaghiusa, Barangay Basak San Nicolas, filed the complaint in his capacity as a taxpayer.

Torres alleged that Cebu City Resolution No. 13-0418-2014, which authorized Rama to sell the SRP lots  was “null and void” for violating Cebu City Ordinance No. 2332 or “An Ordinance protecting the South Road Properties and its Stakeholders from Unlawful and Unauthorized Transactions and Dealings.”

Acosta ruled that there was no actual case or controversy calling for the exercise of judicial power since Torres had no cause of action to file the complaint.

He also denied Torres’ motion to remand the case to the sala of Judge Generosa Labra who inhibited herself from it and the motion of the former secretary general of Bayan Muna to intervene in the case.  Acosta said the issues raised by German “Arman” Perez duplicated the issues raised by Torres. — /JMO (FREEMAN)

ACIRC ACOSTA AN ORDINANCE BARANGAY BASAK SAN NICOLAS CASE CEBU CITY RESOLUTION NO CITY COUNCIL RAMA SOUTH ROAD PROPERTIES TORRES
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