Dispute on road access tests parish-A A +A
Thursday, December 15, 2011
SEEING their passage constricted, a Filipina and her American husband filed a civil complaint against a parish priest in Cebu City and asked for the removal of the concrete fence that blocks their way home.
Plaintiffs Adora and Michael Casey included Archbishop Jose Palma in the civil complaint against Fr. Henry Visitacion, Holy Cross parish priest in Barangay Basak, seeking more than P205,000 in damages.
Aside from the damages, the plaintiffs are praying for the court to issue a permanent injunction, and to allow the use of a four-meter-wide road-right-of-way as provided by the previous lot owners.
The couple’s residential area is adjacent to the Holy Cross Parish churchyard.
When the couple bought the lot their primary consideration, as stated in their complaint,” was the assurance by the former lot owner that a road-right-of-way has been established and enjoyed not only by the former owner but likewise “by residents and families beside and at the back of the church.”
But Visitacion, the couple said, erected a concrete fence in February 2010 between their lots, with a gate to the Caseys’ lot, which narrowed the access road to the Casey property from four meters to one meter.
At the start of the fence construction, the couple and some residents appealed to the priest.
Visitacion reportedly promised to allow the couple to pass the churchyard, and through an iron gate to their property. Adora and her husband gave in, just to settle things.
They were provided keys to the gate lock, Adora said. But soon the locks were changed, preventing Casey couple from bringing in their car.
The lock was cut and the gate destroyed, prompting the priest to charge the couple with robbery and malicious mischief.
But Prosecutor Rodulph Carillo dismissed the robbery case in April 2010 and City Nicolas Sellon dismissed the malicious mischief case in June 2010.
In November 2010 more than a hundred parishioners also asked Fr. Visitacion for access to the road.
In response, the Archdiocese of Cebu said it will study the civil case filed by the couple.
Lawyer Joel Ouano told Sun.Star Cebu he has yet to receive a copy of the complaint, which may have been sent to Patria de Cebu where the administrative offices of the Roman Catholic Church of Cebu are.
At the Archbishop’s residence yesterday, Ouano said all documents pertaining to complaints filed in court are usually sent to the office of the Archbishop of Cebu.
He said this was not the first case filed against Archbishop Palma as the head of the archdiocese. The other complaint was also a civil case.
Ouano handles litigation, while there are other lawyers who serve as legal consultants to the Cebu Archbishop.
One the case filed by the Casey couple, Ouano said the entire archdiocese is named defendant because all church properties are under the name of the Roman Catholic Church of Cebu, with Archbishop Palma as the head.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 15, 2011.