THE Cebu City Legal Office (CLO) has requested Mayor Michael Rama to issue closure orders to eight establishments, including two funeral homes located in Panorama Heights, Nivel Hills, Barangay Lahug for operating without a valid business permit.

In their legal opinion dated Dec. 12, 2022, the CLO said the recommendation came from the endorsement of the Business Permit and Licensing Office (BPLO) last Sept. 1, urging the former to act on the complaint against the establishments.

The establishments identified by the CLO are Crystal Palace Funeral Homes, Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes, Dolce Cafe, Belle Fleur Styling Shop, Anzani Restaurant, Ori Izakaya Japanese Restaurant, Belini / Imagene Bar, and Holly Dawn Home and Design.

According to the legal opinion, a complaint was filed by Santos Realty Investment Corp., which owns the property where the mentioned establishments are situated.

The private corporation alleged that the establishments have occupied its property and operated their business without consent from the former.

“The aforementioned establishments failed to submit any authority to use the properties where these conducted their business operations despite the lapse of the 90-day period given to them,” read a portion of the legal opinion.

Reacting to the CLO’s move to have the eight businesses of the Dychangco Group of Companies (DGC) closed, Renato Dychangco Jr., in a statement sent to SunStar Cebu Tuesday, Dec. 20, assured Cebuanos that DGC “is a law-abiding corporation that has worked with the government, the public and the private sector for seven decades.”

The CLO said that in May 2022, former BPLO head Jared Limquiaco issued a certification that the establishments were not issued final business permits.

In his Final Recommendation Letter addressed to Rama dated June 28, 2022, Limquiaco said the establishments were not able to submit documents showing authority to use the property, which is a requirement for the issuance of a business permit.

“Due notice was already given to the establishments and with the failure to produce the authority to use property despite the period given, our office deems it now ripe to act on the complaint raised before the City,” said Limquiaco.

The CLO also said the Revised Omnibus Tax Ordinance of Cebu City makes it clear “that no business or undertaking shall be conducted or operated without the approved business or mayor’s permit having been issued.”

Meanwhile, the legal counsel of the complainant also revealed that the Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes are operating without proper clearance or endorsement from the Department of Health (DOH).

In the attached DOH Inspection Report dated May 24, 2022, the health department said the Indorsement of Compliance being displayed by Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes in Lahug is intended for the old funeral home located on Junquera Street, Cebu City.

“The said funeral home services had been operational for several years without clearance or Indorsement of Compliance to operate from DOH-CVCHD (Central Visayas Center for Health Development),” read a portion of the inspection report.

The DOH has recommended that the establishments secure appropriate health permits, secure sanitary and business permits from the City Government, and cease commercial operations pending the presence of the said permits.

When sought for comment on the CLO’s closure recommendation and the DOH report, Julius Oliver Moeller, one of the lawyers of Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes, told SunStar Cebu Tuesday they cannot discuss the matter for fear of being cited for indirect contempt since the matter of its dispute with Santos Realty is already under court litigation.

Later, in his statement, Dychangco expressed sadness at the turn of events, saying, “Fellow Cebuanos, my family and I are heartbroken that this issue came on the days leading to Christmas, which should have been a joyous time for our families and our employees.”

He said DGC has been working for Cebuanos for 73 years.

“Our family business has provided jobs and services contributing to the vibrant economy of Cebu City,” he said.

Dychangco lamented that the employment of the 300 workers “working together for the prosperity of our corporation” has now been “threatened on the very week of Christmas.”

On the release of the documents from the CLO “claiming that our businesses are operating without the proper permits,” Dychangco said: “This ongoing legal battle stems from complicated litigation that has been ongoing for a year. We are not allowed to reveal the merits and details of the case with respect to the Court of Laws’ sub judice rule.”

“We have high respect for Mayor Michael Rama and the Cebu City government. DGC is taking the necessary legal steps to appeal the decision,” he said.

“Meanwhile, we continue to fight for justice in the court of law with our team of competent and trustworthy lawyers.” he said.