Petition dropped-A A +A
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
THE Supreme Court First Division dismissed a petition for indirect contempt against 30 Cebu City officials filed by Lucena Rallos, one of the heirs of Fr. Vicente Rallos.
In the same resolution, the high tribunal ordered a similar petition for indirect contempt dismissed before the Regional Trial Court Branch 14.
The case was filed against Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, the 12th Sanggunian Panlungsod headed by then vice mayor Joy Augustus Young and 10 lawyers from the city legal office including then City Atty. Jerone Castillo.
Rallos filed the case, citing the City’s failure to satisfy a previous Supreme Court ruling that the City is liable to pay the Ralloses P133 million for use of 4,654 square meters in Barangay Sambag I.
The Supreme Court resolution did not fail to notice Lucena’s act of forum shopping.
In the 18-page decision penned by Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes, the six indirect contempt cases filed by Lucena were tabled.
Reyes noted that the indirect contempt filed before the Supreme Court was almost the mirror image of the case filed before RTC Branch 14. Only, the 10 lawyers were not named respondents in the lower court case.
One indirect contempt case also pending before the high tribunal was against Court of Appeals justices, two others filed before the lower court were against Rama and other individuals and still another was filed against the Land Bank of the Philippines.
While the high tribunal cites that the petition lacks merit, Reyes clearly stated in his resolution that Lucena engaged in forum shopping.
“Once there is finding of forum shopping, the penalty is summary dismissal not only if the petition lending before this Court but also of the other case that is pending in a lower court. This is so because twin dismissal is a punitive measure to those who trifle with the orderly administration of justice,” the resolution read.
It was concurred and certified by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and concurred by Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro and Lucas Bersamin.
Further, the Supreme Court ruled, “This Court does not intend to downplay the rights accruing to the owners of properties expropriated by the government, it bears stressing that the exercise and enforcement of those rights are subject to compliance with the requirements provided for by law to protect public funds.”
The requirement being referred to is appropriation in the budget.
It was ruled that even when there is final and executory judgment from the high tribunal, the appropriate money claim should have been filed before the Commission on Audit (COA).
“The settlement of the same claim is still subject to the primary jurisdiction of COA. Inevitably, the claimant has to first seek COA’s approval of the monetary claim,” Reyes also said.
The root of the case started in 1963 when the City Government expropriated lots 485-D and 485-E in Sambag I for public road.
But it wasn’t until 1997 when the Rallos heirs filed the case in court.
A total of P56 million has already been paid to the Ralloses but the latter claimed more, calculating interest.
The City, through Rama’s administration, refused to pay more and uncovered a “convenio” which provides that the lots have been donated to the City as access road.
Rama, in an interview with reporters, said he could no longer keep track of the number of cases filed related to the Rallos lots.
He could, however, keep track of the cases he won related to the case including the recent lifting of the tag on a deposit before Postal Savings Bank and the removal of the lien on the titles of lots at the South Road Properties. (SRP).
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 26, 2013.