CAGAYAN de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno on Friday, July 12, 2019 said the City Government will not allow the demolition of the Nazareth Lawn Tennis Court (NLTC) saying the disputed area is part of an open space intended for public use.
However, the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) has dismissed the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) filed by one of the NLTC officers and instead ordered for an inventory.
Moreno pointed out that all the existing structures, which includes the barangay hall and the gymnasium, all built within the open space, os questionable.
In a letter addressed to Nazareth village chair Maximo Rodriguez III and NLTC president Charles Mejia, Mayor Moreno directed that the two-storey structure at the tennis facility should be removed by the NLTC.
Moreno said this structure has "no perceivable purpose as far as the use of the area as tennis ground and recreational area.”
This structure has earned the ire of the barangay as this is has been supposedly been made into a bar where drinking and illegal gambling happens.
Moreno also explained that the City Government cannot support the plan of the barangay to demolish the tennis court citing two presidential decrees.
Section 31 of Presidential Decree 957 states the owner as developer of the subdivision shall preserve 30 percent of the gross area for roads, alleys, sidewalks and open spaces for parks, playgrounds and recreational use.
Presidential Decree 1216 Section 2 also states that these areas reserved for parks and playgrounds shall be non-alienable public lands, and non-buildable. It also added that upon completion of the project, the developer shall turnover the space to the city.
“No portion of the parks and playgrounds donated thereafter shall be converted to other purpose,” the decree states.
The open space in Nazareth has a total area of 7,954 square meters, comprising two parcels of land, with an area of 5,555 square meters and 2,399 square meters, respectively.
The developers, Macasandig Subdivision and San Isidro Subdivision, have already waived their rights with regards to the open space, in favor of the City Government.
"As it is now, the City Government exercises jurisdiction over the disputed area," Moreno said.
The order was served 8:45 a.m. Sunday, July 14, 2019, but Rodriguez was not around. His secretary received and signed the order. There was no resistance. The order was served by the City Legal Office.
Lawyer Tibs Palasan, one of the NLTC board of directors thanked "all those who have supported the cause of Nazareth Lawn Tennis Club.”
"Personally, my fight is for the kids whose future are made brighter by varsity scholarships in the top universities in Manila and abroad. As a lawyer, the last thing is to run away from defending a just cause in the face of arrogant display of power. I rather be imprisoned or die fighting than running away," he said.
Meanwhile, MTCC Branch 7 Judge Carolyn Casiño-Damasing denied the petition filed by Vincent John Elago for the TRO because the local barangay unit already padlocked the NLTC premises.
Elago filed the petition because of fear that his personal belongings might be lost once barangay Nazareth will demolish the tennis court. But the court also ordered barangay officials not to conduct any demolition for 20 days starting July 12.
The court also ordered both parties to conduct an inventory with the presence of barangay and city officials and a photographer to document the activity. The court also ordered the police to maintain the peace and order within the vicinity of the contested property.