Cebu News

CH lawyers: Buendia no personality to sue

Jean Marvette A. Demecillo/FPL - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Lawyers of suspended Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama yesterday asked the Department of Interior and Local Government for an outright dismissal of the complaint filed by Labangon Barangay Captain Victor Buendia for “lack of personality to sue.”

City Legal Officer Jerone Castillo moved for the outright dismissal of the complaint, which has caused the mayor’s 60-day preventive suspension, after the camp of Buendia continue to insist that the barangay captain is suing Rama in behalf of Barangay Labangon.

“We move for the outright dismissal of the case on the lack of personality to sue because they insist that he is suing under an authority that is non-existent under law, non-existent under the corporation code and non-existent under existing jurisprudence,” Castillo said.

When Buendia filed the civil case before the court, Castillo said it was clear in the civil case that he is suing Rama in his official and personal capacity and suing on behalf of Barangay Labangon.

But Castillo said there is a defect on the administrative complaint, which is heard by DILG and the Office of the President, since Buendia did not state that he is filing the complaint in behalf of the barangay.

The issue on Buendia’s personality to sue Rama stemmed after lawyer Brian Repollo, one of the counsels of Buendia, questioned the capacity of Castillo to defend Rama. Repollo said that there is conflict of interest on the part of the lawyers of the city in defending Rama because the complainant is representing a barangay that is also part of the city.

This led to Castillo’s questioning the personality of Buendia because he did not specify in his complaint that he was suing on behalf of the barangay.

 Repollo, however, said that it is not a substantial defect since it is only the caption of the complaint that will be altered.

Lawyer Benjamin Militar, another counsel of Buendia, said that there is no question about Buendia’s personality and his representing the barangay because he was given the authority by the Barangay Council. In fact, a copy of the resolution was attached to the complaint.

But Castillo said the failure of Buendia to incorporate it in the complaint is jurisdictional because “jurisdiction is acquired not to the attachment to the complaint but on the very allegation of the complaint itself.”

Castillo cited Rule 3 section 3 of the rules of court which states that; “where the action is allowed to be prosecuted and defended by a representative or someone acting in a fiduciary capacity (which is now the complainant), the beneficiary (the barangay of labangon) shall be included in the title of the case and shall be deemed to be the real property in interest.”

“We cannot escape the rule, your honor.  And unless they change it, unless they amend the complaint pursuant to the rules, then there is no representation as to who is suing,” Castillo added.

Hearing officer Isidro Barrios III said that Castillo and the rest of the city government lawyers will not be allowed to defend Rama if Buendia is filing the case on behalf of the barangay. However, Barrios said that Buendia should have raised the question after Rama filed his verified-answer of the complaint since Castillo was the lead counsel who drafted all the answers of Rama.

The issue prompted Barrios to suspend the second day of the preliminary conference until he is able to resolve the issue. He is expected to come up with a ruling today. — (FREEMAN)

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