CEBU City has to pay a private claimant P57 million for his land that ended up being part of the South Road Properties (SRP) reclamation project, the court ordered.
The Regional Trial Court’s (RTC) Branch 21 issued a notice of garnishment that asked the Land Bank of the Philippines to hold on to P57,119,287.50 of the Cebu City Government’s funds.
This is meant to ensure that City Hall will have enough to pay businessman Roque Ting.
The Supreme Court (SC) has issued “a final and executory” judgment on the case.
According to the writ of execution signed by Sheriff IV Constancio Alimurung, Cebu City has to pay Ting P33.7 million for the value of his lots, P3.9 million for his warehouse and rest house that were demolished, P60,000 for attorney’s fees and P30,000 for litigation expenses.
Interest of six percent per year will be charged, reckoned from the date of judgment until the amount is fully paid.
The RTC Branch 21 handed down its original judgment in favor of Ting last Jan. 3, 2008.
No error: SC
In his case for damages, Ting presented titles for two lots with a total area of 4,222 square meters, which are now part of SRP.
After that decision, Cebu City brought the case to the Court of Appeals (CA), which later denied it for lack of merit.
The SC denied City Hall’s petition for review, saying there was “no reversible error in the challenged decision.”
Even if the SC’s decision was released last July 30, 2014, it was only in April of this year when the lower court issued a writ of execution.
City Attorney Joseph Bernaldez said that since the SC released the decision, the previous administration through the City Legal Office did not file any motion for reconsideration on the judgment.
Land Bank’s Plaza Independencia Branch Manager Vivian Bisnar sent the City a copy of the notice of garnishment, as well as a letter informing the mayor that some P57 million of the City’s money was put on hold.
In order to avoid additional interest payments, Mayor Tomas Osmeña said that City Hall will pay Ting.
“We will have to pay because they (the bank will) have to garnish it. If not, we will owe more,” he said.
In his news conference yesterday, Osmeña blamed former Mayor Michael Rama and Councilor Jocelyn Pesquera, who had pushed for the matter to be brought to court.
He said he would have wanted to enter a P13.5-million settlement with Ting, but Rama earlier said that City won’t have to pay because the property in question was underwater.
In 2005, Pesquera was the lone councilor who objected to the resolution that would have allowed the City to give P3 million as a down payment to Ting for his property.
“Ego-tripping man si Pesquera and Rama. Now who pays the price? Will they pay for it? No,” Osmeña said.
What the two did was also “grandstanding,” the mayor added.
Both Rama and Pesquera are lawyers.
For his part, Bernaldez said that City Hall really has to pay the amount, in order to avoid additional interest payments.
“We have been trying to save the City from losing the case but the court decided and the SC has upheld the decision of the lower court. Now, in every litigation, there must be an end,” he said.
Sought for comment, Rama said he fought for the matter because he didn’t want the City to pay a property that was underwater.
“We were fighting for the rule of law. We wanted to be sure before paying,” he said in a phone interview.
Asked about Osmeña’s comment that the former mayor was ego-tripping, Rama said he never was and that the mayor was just “mirroring himself.”
Rama said he has entrusted the matter to Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, “who knows the issue well.”
Pesquera was also firm on her stand that City Hall should not pay Ting.
“Tomas should blame his legal team for their failure to protect the interest of the City. When Tomas won, I already had an inkling that Tomas would pay Roque Ting,” she added.