A LOCAL lawyer, who sought refuge from the court on the P1.7-billion loan application of the Bacolod City Government before the Development Bank of the Philippines, said that it was the Clerk of Court who identified the docket fee.
Beloria was the counsel of petitioners - former councilor Jocelle Batapa-Sigue, former vice mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson, and Antonio Wong.
“Firstly, their claim of at least a million peso should be paid as a docket fee because the amount involved is P1.7 billion is entirely incorrect,” Beloria pointed out.
“The primary course of action in the complaint that we filed is the annulment of contract. There is no prayer for the recovery of the sum of money or prayer for damages. It is the Supreme Court that puts a table of legal fees,” he said.
“The high court's Memorandum Circular on Legal Fees states that if the action where the value of the subject matter cannot be estimated, the annulment of contract, there is a table for the legal fees. It was the Docket Clerk in the Clerk of Court which determined the docket fees that they have paid,” he added.
Beloria’s statement came after City Legal Officer Joselito Bayatan earlier said that during the first hearing held recently, they moved and manifested before the court that the action was about the alleged taxpayers’ suit and the subject there is the P1.7 billion loan.
“So, if it is a suit of a taxpayer, it necessarily involves public funds. And if there is a claim for damage, that is the amount that is alleged to be damage being claimed by the taxpayers. That is actually the set up in the complaint,” he said.
“So we moved that if that is the set-up, then there must be in the docket fee that they should comply. So, we questioned the docket fee that they paid which we believed is jurisdictional. A wrong payment of the docket fee will necessarily affect the jurisdiction of the court and the court may not acquire jurisdiction over the case if no docket fee that was paid was a wrong docket fee. The court gave us five days to put into writing, our motion to dismiss on the ground of jurisdiction on the basis of the issue on docket fee. The other party or the petitioners were also given a period of five days to file their comment. Meanwhile, the hearing on the temporary restraining order was held in abeyance, pending the resolution of our motion to dismiss,” he said.