CH asks: Dismiss petition to nullify Kawit deal

THE Cebu City Government asked Regional Trial Court Judge Soliver Peras to dismiss the civil petition filed by eight city councilors, who sought to nullify the resolution that authorized Mayor Tomas Osmeña to sign the joint venture agreement to develop an P18-billion integrated resort and casino complex on Kawit Island in the South Road Properties (SRP).

In yesterday’s hearing, City Legal Officer Joseph Bernaldez argued that the petitioners violated the rule on non-forum shopping since a similar petition involving the same interest was also filed by a village councilor.

Thus, Bernaldez said the petition ought to be dismissed because the city councilors are “guilty” of forum shopping.

Peras tackled yesterday the opposition councilors’ petition for declaration of nullity with the prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and preliminary injunction against the City Government.

It seeks to prevent the City from entering into a joint venture deal with Universal Hotels and Resorts Inc.(UHRI).

The petitioners are Councilors Jose Daluz III, Jocelyn Pesquera, Raymond Garcia, Pastor Alcover, Erik Miguel Espina, Joel Garganera, and Eduardo Rama Jr.

They said the majority bloc had no basis to convene in a session where they passed the resolution covering the UHRI deal.

They said that minutes of the City Council’s session last Aug. 7 revealed that the session had already adjourned and any resolution approved after it is illegal.

But the majority bloc insisted that the proceedings of the legislative body were valid because it was just a continuation of their regular session.

Osmeña and officers of UHRI already signed the joint venture deal to develop an P18-billion integrated resort and casino complex in Kawit Island last Aug.17.

In an interview after the hearing yesterday, Bernaldez said Peras cannot issue an order contrary to another judge’s order since they are co-equal branch of government.

Judge Generosa Labra earlier denied for being moot the plea of Busay Barangay Councilor Amilo Lopez, who sought for issuance of a temporary restraining order against the deal between the City and UHRI.

Peras gave both parties five days to submit their respective position papers.

UHRI, the property development arm of JG Summit Inc., proposed to develop Isla de la Victoria that will consist of a commercial and shopping center, a theater for performing arts, a convention center, an integrated resort and gaming facility, three hotels, a theme park, a public art installation, and parking facilities.

JG Summit Inc., founded by Cebuano business tycoon John Gokongwei, wants to lease and develop the eight-hectare Kawit property for 50 years.

After such period, the property’s ownership and the development introduced therein will revert to the City. (GMD)


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