CEBU City Mayor Tomas Osmeña made good his threat to sue Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, Agriculture Sec. Arthur Yap and Department of Agriculture (DA) 7 officials for turning over the lot in Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City to the Provincial Government.
Apart from Garcia and Yap, Osmeña also implicated DA 7 Director Ricardo Oblena, Angel Enriquez, DA 7 technical director; Edwardo Alama, DA 7 administrative officer; lawyer Samuel Dinoy, DA 7 legal officer; and the Register of Deeds of Cebu City.
The 34-page petition for judicial review and termination of title was filed yesterday amid plans of the Provincial Government to takeover the compound on M. Velez St. today and to demolish the existing DA 7 office.
Sought for comment, Capitol spokesperson Rory Jon Sepulveda said the Capitol welcomed the case.
“Good. A case is the proper way to showcase one’s right or one’s folly. I am confident in this case it’s the latter,” he said in a text message.
He added that Osmeña will do whatever it takes to win voters to his side.
“He is now playing to the sentiments of the affected informal settlers,” he added.
Osmeña, through City Legal Officer Joseph Bernaldez, is suing as a “citizen and taxpayer.”
The City Government and the DA Cebu Breeding Residents Association Inc. were also named petitioners in the complaint.
They also asked the court to declare DA as the lawful owner of the contested property.
The Province wants to recover the contested property based on two grounds—the enactment of the Local Government Code of 1991 or Republic Act 7160, which devolved the functions of national agencies to local governments and the usufruct under the Civil Code that limits term of use to only 50 years.
Last year, Governor Garcia entered into memorandum of agreement that paved the way for the demolition of the DA 7 office.
Although the agency was given a grace period until Feb. 28 to vacate the property, the DA officials and employees voluntarily vacated the area.
Oblena then entered into a lease contract with a private corporation for the lease of a commercial building in Barangay Subangdaku, Mandaue City.
The DA 7 is now occupying a 4,295-square-meter office with a monthly rental of about P1.6 million.
In a manifesto the affected parties circulated relative to the closure of the DA 7 office, Garcia threatened to padlock the gate and post guards if the building occupants refused to vacate the building.
Bernaldez said the sudden transfer of the laboratories would have cost the agency about P20,100,600 a year.
“Clearly, this is highly disadvantageous to the National Government. It constitutes illegal disbursement of funds,” said Bernaldez.
The City Government said the erroneous transfer of certificate title (TCT) of the Province constitutes an “egregious error.”
Bernaldez said that a DA legal department report showed that a certification was issued to the Province by the Register of Deeds in 1996.
But on the face of the title of Province, Bernaldez said TCT 6204 had no indication of how the Province acquired the title.
Bernaldez asked the court that TCT 6033, covering Lot 6033-B, be declared null and void.
He also the Capitol has no right to evict DA 7 and the homeowners inside the agency’s compound.
Bernaldez also dismissed the claim of Capitol that there was a usufruct under Article 562 of the Civil Code.
Bernaldez also said the agreement Garcia and Yap recently entered into had “no legal and binding effect.”
He asked the court to rescind the lease contract and to declare as void the transfer of the DA 7 and the demolition of its structure.
Bernaldez said the residents inside the compound have the right to stay since the City Government recognizes them as legitimate urban settlers.