CA denies appeal of Torres

THE 18th Division of the Court of Appeals (CA) has denied the appeal of lawyer Romulo Torres which seeks to stop the Cebu City Government from spending the P8.35 billion proceeds from the sale of South Road Properties (SRP) lots in 2015.

In a 14-page decision, the appellate court has affirmed the decision of the lower court dismissing Torres’ case on the grounds that there was no actual case or controversy that will call for the exercise of judicial power.

Torres earlier filed a petition for declaratory relief and injunction in his capacity as taxpayer from Barangay Basak San Nicolas

The CA, in its decision promulgated last April 30, affirmed the decision of the Branch 9 of the Regional Trial Court that there is no conflict between City Ordinance 2332, passed in 2012, and Resolution No. 130418-2014.

The ordinance seeks to protect the SRP and its stakeholders from unlawful and unauthorized transactions. The resolution, passed two years after the ordinance, authorizes the disposal of 45.2 hectares through public bidding.

The 45.2 hectares SRP lot was sold to the consortium of Filinvest Land Inc., Ayala Cebu Holdings Inc., and SM Prime Holdings Inc., through public bidding during the administration of former mayor Michael Rama.

Rama when sought for comment said the development is another victory for the truth.

“All things considered, the Court finds no grave error in the Trial Court's dismissal of the petitioner-appellant's action for declaratory relief. Apparently, the elements of such action are wanting in this case necessitating its dismissal,” read portion of the decision.

In the decision, the CA also said that Torres has no cause of action against the respondents members of the City Council as the former did not assert any legal right which he seeks to protect.

In his allegation, the appellate court said Torres plainly asserted that with sale of SRP lots without valid bases, the basic services, that he, along with all other residents of the city that will be provided by the City will be greatly affected as the local government will be drowned to debt.

However, the CA said it is just a general statement which is not sufficient to constitute a legal right or interest.

While the case was pending appeal, Torres and Osmeña who represented the City asked the court to allow them to enter into a compromise agreement.

The 19th Division of the CA denied the joint motion for a compromise agreement because the agreement was contrary to law and public policy, which warrants its outright denial.

The CA said Osmeña, who represented the City in the compromise agreement, is not a party to the case.

The compromise agreement will, in effect, declare something which has not been passed upon by the courts.

Last January 15, Torres and Osmeña again filed a joint omnibus motion for reconsideration for the compromise agreement, but the CA opted to solve it based on its merits since the actual case was already submitted for decision.

Last October, the City Council approved with five abstentions from the opposition councilors the resolution requesting Osmeña to negotiate two cases involving the SRP lots.


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