BARANGAY Lahug will start presenting evidence and witnesses this week to support its territorial claim over the block where Waterfront Cebu City Hotel (WCCHC) and Casino and Cebu Grand Convention Center stand.

Barangay Luz wrapped up its adverse claim last year and it is now Lahug’s turn to convince the Cebu City Council that it has the rightful jurisdictional claim.

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Lahug Barangay Captain Mary Ann de los Santos said she will take the witness stand first.

In an interview, she said that after Luz presented its case, they have become more confident of successfully staving off its neighbor’s claim.

She said Luz’s claim was “baseless;” and if City Council members will remain objective in deciding on the issue, Lahug will come out “victorious.”

“I am very confident, if it will just be decided based solely on the merits of the case. Based on their documentary and testimonial evidence, I do think we will win,” de los Santos said.

“So I hope they (council members) will not cloud their objectivity. They should transcend beyond personal and political considerations. I did not say that they are biased.

But I know there is pressure from the executive, so we are bracing for the worst,” she said.

She said that if they are dissatisfied with the council’s decision, they will surely elevate the matter to the regular courts.

Under the Local Government Code, the council supposedly just has 60 days from the date a boundary dispute is referred to the body to resolve the matter.

If the council cannot accomplish the task, it should send a certification to the contending parties to that effect.

After which, it has 60 more days to hear and settle the conflict if efforts towards a peaceful resolution fail.

Since negotiation by the council committee of three failed to achieve an amicable settlement, the council had convened itself into a court.

Luz is already through with its presentation of evidence and witnesses and submission of a position paper.

It is now Lahug’s turn to give its answer and present its own set of witnesses.

In August 2004, Luz officials led by then barangay captain Nemesio Pagador brought up the claim that the area where the WCCHC and the Grand Convention Center are located is part of Luz.

In his affidavit, Pagador said the WCCHC space used to be part of Sitio Wakwak, while the area where the Grand Convention is was part of Sitio San Vicente.

Lahug officials, on the other hand, considered the claim baseless, citing a 1965 map and a 1966 council resolution that defined barangay boundaries.

De los Santos said their material evidence includes the map and tax declarations issued by the City.

She had expressed fear that the case will be archived or that the city council will rule on the matter without taking into consideration what transpired in the series of hearings.

It is because it is almost always just former city councilor Hilario Davide III among the members of the City Ccouncil who attended the hearings.

Councilor Gerardo Carillo, however, had assured her that they will read the records of the case before passing judgment on the issue.