Injunction issued vs. Metro Safari

THE Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 49 in Bacolod City granted on Monday the preliminary injunction sought by three Alangilan councilmen against defendants Mushroom Realty Development Corporation, its owner Francis Rey Cabuga, and Office of the Building Official (OBO) officer-in-charge Isidro Sun Jr.

The writ of preliminary injunction issued by Presiding Judge Manuel Cardinal Jr. enjoins, restrains or prohibits the defendants from continuing with the development and construction of facilities and buildings of Bacolod Metro Safari Zoo and Resort located in Barangay Alangilan without the necessary building and other pertinent permits.

Metro Safari Zoo and Resort
BACOLOD. The construction site of Metro Safari Zoo and Resort in Barangay Alangilan, Bacolod City as shown in this photo taken last month. (Carla N. Cañet)

Mushroom Realty is the owner and developer of Metro Safari Resort.

The resort is located in Lot Nos. 1581-B-2, 1581-B-3 and 1581-B-4.

Moreover, the court ordered Sun, in his capacity as officer-in-charge of OBO, as well as his deputies, assistants, subordinates, substitutes, and all other persons acting for and in his behalf, from issuing a building permit to defendants’ corporation and Cabuga without compliance with the mandatory requirements prescribed by law.

According to plaintiffs Alex Sausi, Roy Retiza and Donaldo Alimpolo, the resort developer lacks zoning or locational clearance pursuant to Zoning Ordinance No. 216, Department of Agrarian Reform conversion clearance under Republic Act No. 6657, as amended by Republic Act No. 9700 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law as amended, and other required clearances under existing laws.

As to the issue of jurisdiction, Cardinal said the issue is not out of its jurisdiction on the basis of mere allegations contained in the memoranda of the defendants.

“Curiously the defendants did not even bother to file a motion to dismiss based on lack of jurisdiction,” the judge said, adding that “(n)evertheless, the memoranda of the defendants cited some facts which, in effect, pointed to the classification of the land as being agricultural.

Based on the complaint, the sole issue raised by the plaintiffs is the legality or illegality of the ongoing construction of facilities on the landholdings in Alangilan without the required building permit pursuant to Chapter III, Section 301 of Presidential Decree No. 1096 or the National Building Code.

Hence, the said issue is a justifiable one, which this court has certainly the power and authority to adjudicate on, to the exclusion of DAR or of the special agrarian court for that matter, Cardinal said.

He added that the complaint in this case does not involve or question any agrarian or tenurial dispute or controversy.

Cabuga’s counsel Salvador Panelo had earlier questioned Cardinal’s issuance of a temporary restraining order against Metro Safari Resort.
He said courts have no jurisdiction over agricultural and agrarian reform lands, only the DAR.

“We are going to file a motion to dismiss so that the honorable court can focus on the issue," Panelo said.

He added that his client Cabuga, who is a Davaoeño, is a decent businessman who wants to put Bacolod in the tourism map “but has fallen victim to business competition and jealousy that unfounded stories are made against him."
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