Mayor clarifies SC decision on Baguio parking row

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Friday, June 13, 2014


THE Supreme Court's April 23, 2014 decision invalidating the city council's rescission of the City Government-Jadewell Parking Systems Corporation contract did not authorize the parking firm to resume operation in the city, Mayor Mauricio Domogan said.

"It's true that the decision affirmed the validity of our contract with them but it did not mention that Jadewell can reoperate in our city," the mayor said.

The mayor said he received a letter from the legal counsel of Jadewell seeking talks with the City Government presumably on the resumption of their operations.

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"But we will answer them to clarify that there was no mention of their reoperation in the decision," Domogan said.

The mayor said he expects Jadewell to file a motion with the Court for clarification of the ruling to this end.

Acting City Legal officer Melchor Carlos Rabanes on Monday said the Court nullified the first act of rescission by the City Council done on February 19, 2002 only as the five-year guarantee against rescission stipulated in the contract had not lapsed yet at that time. This as he said the second act of rescission in 2006 is considered valid because it was beyond the guarantee period.

Rabanes clarified during the department heads' meeting that in the recent decision, the Court dismissed the contempt charges filed by Jadewell against him, then acting city mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. and then members of the City Council as a result of the second rescission.

"So that means that the second rescission was valid and that means that we are free to use Ganza parking, all roads and areas subject of the Jadewell contract but we still have to wait for the entry of judgment," Rabanes said.

In a decision dated April 23, Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno affirmed the Court of Appeals ruling dated July 7, 2003 invalidating the City Council's rescission of the memorandum of agreement that authorized Jadewell's operation in the city in 2001.

But the Court did not award any damage in favor of the parking firm noting there was not enough evidence on the extent of Jadewell's violations of the contract to prove whether or not the unilateral rescission of the contract was in order.

"While Jadewell prays for damages against the public respondent, and while ordinarily we could grant the same, the context of this case prevents us from giving any form of recompense to Jadewell even if the rescission of the MOA did not follow the required legal procedure. This is because it would be appalling to grant Jadewell any award of damages, considering (1) it installed only 14 out of the apparently 100 contemplated parking meters; (2) its employees, private citizens who did not possess any authority from the LTO (Land Transportation Office), were manually collecting parking fees from the public, and (3) it did not, apparently properly remit any significant amount of money to the City of Baguio,” the Court said.

"These three facts are uncontested, these omissions are offensive to the concept of public service that the residents of Baguio were promised through Jadewell. From its ambiguous responses, it is clear that Jadewell does not appear to be an investor who has lost in its investments in the Baguio City project. Thus, we do not award any damages to Jadewell.”

In the same ruling, the Court also dismissed Jadewell's petitions to cite former mayors Braulio Yaranon, Bernardo Vergara and Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr., former vice mayor Betty Lourdes Tabanda, members of the then City Council and Judge Fernando Vil Pamintuan for indirect contempt and to disbar city officials who are lawyers by profession.

The Court also denied the petition of Jadewell for certiorari, prohibition and madamus as well as its prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction.

Yaranon's petition for review on certiorari relative to his suspension from office in 2006 was also denied for being moot and academic.

Jadewell’s operations in the city which was assailed for a long time was stopped in November, 2006 after the city council repealed Ordinance No. 003-2000 for the privatization and administration of on-street parking in the city and rescinded the MOA that authorized its operation in 2001.

This resulted to Jadewell's filing of the case against the city government questioning the validity of the rescission.

The Regional Trial Court on October 8, 2002 declared the city council's move as unlawful and this was sustained by the Court of Appeals on July 7, 2003.

The main case spawned a bevy of cases, one of which resulted to the suspension of former mayor Yaranon in 2006.

Jadewell’s contract with the city government expired in 2012. (Aileen Refuerzo)

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on June 14, 2014.

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