Metro Safari owner seeks dismissal of land case

MUSHROOM Realty Development Corporation, owner and developer of Bacolod Metro Safari Zoo and Resort, is preparing to file a motion to dismiss the case filed against them on its occupancy of the property in Barangay Alangilan for the court's lack of jurisdiction.

Salvador Panelo, the Manila-based counsel of realty firm owner Rey Francis Cabuga, told reporters in a press conference Sunday that they may file the motion not later than July 25.

"Mr. Cabuga is a decent businessman who is not from here but wants to put Bacolod in the map of tourism in the country but has fallen victim to business competition and jealousy so unfounded stories are made against him," the lawyer said.

Panelo said he was surprised that Judge Manuel Cardinal Jr. of Branch 49 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Bacolod City issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Metro Safari.

He said the court may not have considered that under two laws, which are Republic Act 6657 and R.A. 9700, any issue pertaining to agricultural lands and Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp) lands are within the jurisdiction of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

"Courts have no jurisdiction over those agricultural and Carp lands as DAR has jurisdiction to it. So we are going to file a motion to dismiss so that the honorable court can focus on the issue," Panelo said.

In April this year, the DAR has issued a cease and desist order against Cabuga for illegally converting three lots located in Barangay Alangilan, which refer to the lots being developed as the site of the Metro Safari Resort.

DAR Regional Director Alejandro Otacan, in a letter to Cabuga dated April 16 relative to the ongoing development of farm holdings designated as Lot Nos. 1581-B-2, 1581-B-3 and 1581-4, noted that these lots are being developed for non-agricultural uses without an approved land use conversion order.

On June 18, the RTC issued a three-day TRO enjoining Mushroom Realty Development Corp. and the Office of the Building Official head Isidro Sun Jr. to refrain from continuing the development and construction of facilities and other structures in Metro Safari Resort without the required building permit and other mandatory clearances.

The TRO was sought by Alangilan councilmen Alex Sausi, Roy Retiza and Donald Alimpolo against Cabuga and Sun on June 16 based on the Civil Case No. 14-14345 they filed against the businessman.

The court issued an 18-day extension of the TRO two days later.

“My advice to my client, Mr. Cabuga, is to file an administrative case against the court sheriff and if the court continues to insist jurisdiction we are going to file a certiorari for grave abuse of jurisdiction.”

He added: “We will file an administrative case against him because it is very clear that the law says that any issue on matter of agriculture and Carp, the court cannot assume jurisdiction and the case should be outrightly dismissed because it should be the DAR that should handle it".

Panelo added that one of those who filed the case against Metro Safari lied in court so perjury case could be filed against him.
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