Rama files SC case vs. sheriff-A A +A
Friday, March 30, 2012
CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama sued a court sheriff before the Supreme Court for allegedly hastening the levy on the South Road Properties (SRP) lot to satisfy the P133 million judgment award.
Rama asked the Office of the Court Administrator to investigate Eugene Fuentes for grave abuse of authority and violation of the Rules of Court and the Code of Conduct of Court Personnel.
“To this day, Sheriff Fuentes continues to harass the government banks despite the fact that no money claims have yet been filed with the COA (Commission on Audit) and no ordinance has been enacted appropriating the amount to satisfy the judgment. He is shamelessly acting without jurisdiction,” Rama said in his complaint.
Sought for his reaction, Fuentes told Sun. Star Cebu that he acted within the bounds of law when he carried out his functions relative to the Rallos case.
He refused to further comment until he receives a copy of the complaint.
Fuentes, who is detailed at the Regional Trial Court clerk of court, was designated in October 2011 by Judge James Stewart Ramon Himalaloan as the implementing sheriff in the Rallos case.
He replaced Antonio Bellones who retired last year.
In the complaint, Rama said the case involving the lot claims of the heirs of the late Fr. Vicente Rallos “is unfortunately being hastily, yet irregularly pursued” under his term, although the case was filed in 1997 yet.
The heirs belonging to the group of Lucina and Maurillo Rallos are demanding payment of P133 million from the City for using the family’s property as road right-of-way in Barangay Sambag 2 since 1963.
Last Sept. 23, the City received an order from Judge Himalaloan directing the sheriff to issue a writ of execution to take money from the City’s bank account as payment for the judgment award.
On Sept. 26, a writ of execution was issued directing Fuentes to implement the court order requiring the City to pay the judgment award.
Rama said the amended writ of execution designating Fuentes as the implementing sheriff was issued on Oct. 12, 2011.
Curiously, said Rama, Fuentes issued the notice of sale on execution dated Oct. 3, attaching therein a court order designating him as the implementing sheriff in the Rallos case.
“If he was designated only on Oct. 11, why then was he already issuing orders as early as October 3? Simply put, he was acting without any authority whatsoever,” Rama said.
Granting that Fuentes was authorized to issue the Oct. 3 notice, Rama pointed out that the amended writ of execution allowed the City the option to choose which property may be levied up to satisfy the judgment.
But the City was unable to exercise such option, said Rama, since Fuentes “blatantly disregarded” the writ by issuing the notice of public auction dated Oct. 3.
The lot successors earlier picked the 9.7-hectare lot at SRP to satisfy the P133-million award.
They also asked the court sheriff to put on public auction the SRP lot, which is designated Lot 1-D and Lot 1-G, owned by the Cebu City Government valued at P10 million.
The scheduled levy last Dec. 13 was ordered canceled. The public auction of the SRP lot, however, will proceed on April 10 without requiring the lot successors to post an indemnity bond.
But Rama said the public auction notices were prematurely issued.
“The manner and means by which the same were issued and served were simply arbitrary and glaringly attended with malice, evident bad faith, and with grave abuse of authority by Fuentes,” said Rama.
Meanwhile, Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district) told the City Government to pay the Rallos heirs P133 million or “suffer its consequences.”
Osmeña clarified it’s the City’s obligation after the Rallos lots had been expropriated and non-payment of the heirs will put the City in a bad light.
He added it’s also bad for business because Filinvest Land Inc. (FLI) will withhold its 2012 payments for the South Road Properties (SRP) lots amounting to P800 million, because of “encumbrances” on the land titles it bought from the City Government.
Of the amount, P245.2 million is FLI’s fourth amortization for the lot it purchased, while the P600 million represents the City’s share of the pre-sales of its condominium projects at the SRP through a joint venture.
Titles of the lots that FLI bought have been reportedly annotated “lis pendens,” meaning there is pending litigation involving the properties, as a result of the City’s court battle with the Rallos heirs.
As stated in the joint venture agreement entered into by the City Government and FLI on Feb. 3, 2009, the City has to turn over the properties sold to FLI without a lien.
Osmeña clarified the City Government violated the contract because it provided a warranty that there will be no lien on the property.
If the whole thing falls apart, Osmeña said, it may be likened to a nuclear meltdown, in a financial sense.
He projected that the SRP will be worth some P80 billion using the baseline price of IT Park and Ayala at P40,000 per square meter, when the buildings of Filinvest and SM Prime Holdings will be finished.
However, Osmeña foresees the City will stand to lose P60 billion “with all the mess going on” and if the Rallos case won’t be settled.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 30, 2012.