SC junks petition vs. City officials

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Saturday, February 1, 2014


THE latest in the legal battle between the heirs of Fr. Vicente Rallos and the Cebu City Government is a point for the latter.

The Supreme Court (SC) dismissed the petition for indirect contempt filed by one of the heirs, Lucena Rallos, against the Cebu City officials.

The respondents of the case are Mayor Michael Rama, members of the previous Cebu City Council headed by then vice mayor Joy Augustus Young and the lawyers of the City Legal Office headed by City Attorney Jerone Castillo.

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“The settlement of the claim is still subject to the primary jurisdiction of the Commission on Audit (COA). Ineluctably, the claimant has to first seek the COA’s approval of the monetary claim,” the Supreme Court decision read.

It was penned by Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno concurred.

Lucena filed the petition for indirect contempt because of the City’s failure to heed a separate and earlier ruling of the Supreme Court saying the City must pay the heirs P133 million.

The subjects of the case are lots 485-D and 485-E in Barangay Sambag I, expropriated by the City in 1963. It has a total land area of 4,654 square meters that form part of Aznar Road.

The City argued that all money claims involving public funds should be filed before COA.

The SC also noted that Rallos committed forum shopping since there have been four indirect contempt cases filed against the City officials involving the same issue, which is the City’s refusal to pay the heirs even if the decision on the liability has become final and executory.

The City is fighting hard to combat the attempt to collect P133 million because the amount can be of better use for public services.

It filed a petition before the Court of Appeals to declare the earlier decision finding the City liable to pay the Rallos heirs for the public lot.

The appellate court issued a writ of preliminary injunction in 2012, which prevented the garnishment of Cebu City’s bank deposits.

Over P56 million have been paid to the Ralloses for the lot but the amount got bigger because of the interest incurred.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 02, 2014.

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