Ombud clears Rama, 3 others-A A +A
Sunday, August 18, 2013
CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama and three other Cebu City officials were cleared of the administrative and civil cases filed against them by the former residents along Mahiga Creek.
Both cases were dismissed, to the relief of Noel Artes, Alvin Santillana and Harold Alcontin.
Artes headed the Squatters Prevention Elimination and Encroachment Division (now called Probe for Prevention Restoration Order Restoration and Enhancement).
Santillana and Alcontin were from the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council.
The three of them implemented the clearing operations at Mahiga Creek on May 9, 2011 through Rama’s order.
The Office of the Ombudsman for the Visayas “closed and terminated” the case filed by Pagtambayayong Foundation Inc. through its president and Department of Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Francisco Fernandez along with Estrella Arcipe and Rosita Icot but without prejudice to the injunction case filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC).
“In order to avoid possible conflicting decisions, this Office deems it proper that the instant case be closed and terminated without prejudice to the final outcome of the pending injunction case,” read the 10-page decision of Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer Llorene Grace-Razo-Ompod and approved by Conchita Morales.
But even before the RTC, Pagtambayayong was unsuccessful.
The non-government organization filed the cases in behalf of its members who are also residents of Mahiga Creek and whose houses were demolished in the City-implemented clearing operations.
The residents claimed that the provisions under the Urban Housing and Development Act (UDHA) were not carried out by the City Government, particularly on the matter of providing adequate relocation to the affected residents.
But RTC Branch 10 Presiding Judge Soliver Peras belied this allegation in his 15-page decision dismissing the petition for injunction.
“This Court has personally inspected the site intended for the purpose. Thus, petitioners’ claim that there was none is devoid of merit,” read Peras’ decision.
Peras also ruled in favor of the respondents when it said that Pagtambayayong is not the real party in interest.
The clearing operation was implemented by the Cebu City Government following heavy flooding in the Cities of Cebu and Mandaue on January of the same year.
The reason for the flood was because Mahiga Creek overflowed, hence, the City cleared the three-meter easement to prevent obstruction in the waterway.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 18, 2013.