Families want judge out of land hearing

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014


ABOUT 39 families from Barangay Apas, Cebu City, want Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 9 Judge Alexander Acosta out of the ejectment case that landowner Aletha Suico-Magat filed against them.

Benjamin Militar and Alvin Prandy Canta, the residents’ lawyers, filed a motion asking Acosta to voluntary inhibit from hearing the case “in order to avoid any further suspicion of partiality.”

“The residents have lost its (sic) trust in the impartiality of the presiding judge and ask for his immediate inhibition and recusal,” the residents’ pleading read.

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In March, Judge Acosta denied the residents’ motion for temporary restraining order (TRO), which led to the demolition of some of the houses of 157 families in a lot in Sitio San Miguel, Barangay Apas.

Municipal Trial Court in Cities Branch 6 Pamela Baring-Uy issued the writ of demolition dated Jan. 23 against the families, who are occupying Lot 947 comprised of 7,411 sq.m., and Lot 942, with an area of 9,753 sq.m.

Both lots, owned by Magat, were supposed to be part of the expansion of the then Lahug airport.

Order

The Supreme Court ordered the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority to return the lots to Magat’s family, the Suicos, in 2011.

But the residents argued that the Provincial Government owns the lots.

They said the Province’s ownership is covered by Executive Order 20, which was issued on June 9, 1918 by the Office of the Governor General of the Philippines during the American colonial rule.

In denying the motion for a restraining order, the judge said, “As what the court said, it cannot, and will not tolerate and allow abuse of the mandate and the doctrines under the guise that defendants are “homeless and underprivileged citizens.”

The two properties span 7,411 sq.m. and 9,753 sq. m. Both lots were supposed to be part of the expansion of the old Lahug airport.

Move

The residents sought the inhibition of Judge Acosta after he denied the petitioners’ motion for reconsideration on the denial of their motion to suspend the implementation of the demolition writ.

The residents’ lawyers said Acosta failed to distinguish and lumped their motions for issuance of a preliminary injunction and to suspend the enforcement of the writ.

“It is quite disheartening that this court, unmindful of its responsibility as the upholder of the social justice doctrines of the law and the constitution, has turned a blind eye and a deaf ear on simple requests for a just and humane treatment of the urban poor settlers,” the residents’ pleading read.

The residents’ lawyers said they filed the inhibition because they cannot expect to get a “just and impartial” resolution of the case from Acosta.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 28, 2014.

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