RTC junks motion on Bibak lot

A REGIONAL Trial Court (RTC) has denied a recent motion for reconsideration filed by some 50 stall owners inside the Bibak lot along Harrison road in Baguio City. 

“A person who builds on a lot he does not own without the authority of the owner cannot acquire a right over said structures,” RTC Branch 5 Presiding Judge Maria Ligaya Itliong-Rivera said, as she denied for lack of merit the twin motions for reconsideration to prevent the demolition of their structures at the government property.

The occupants led by Manuel Miranda Jr. and Ma. Eleanor San Pedro sought reconsideration of the court’s earlier ruling denying their petition for a writ of preliminary injunction to stop the City Government’s plan to dismantle the illegal structures in the area.
In the order dated March 22, 2016, the court said it “finds no compelling reason to grant the motions for reconsideration,” as the petitioners cited the same grounds as when they applied for preliminary injunction.  

“These grounds have already been adequately discussed in the questioned Order,” the court said.

“They also insist the issue is not about ownership over the lot where their structures are built but their right over their structures,” the court noted.

“The court cannot subscribe to their argument that they have a right to their structure considering that they do not own the lot and their building was not authorized by the owner,” the court said.  

In denying the petition for preliminary injunction last February, the same court gave credence to the position of Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Cordillera officer-in-charge regional director Paquito Moreno that “petitioners occupation has no legal basis and neither can they qualify as beneficiaries under (Republic Act) No. 10023 (Act Authorizing the Issuance of Free Patents to Residential Lands) because the lot is not alienable and disposable.  Thus the possession of the petitioners, no matter how long, could never ripen into ownership or possessory right.”

“Given the foregoing, the Court finds that petitioners are not entitled to the issuance of an injunctive writ because they have no right to the property on which their structures stand,” the court said.

Mayor Mauricio Domogan earlier said the city will pursue the demolition as soon as the legal issues have been settled.

“We will wait for the right time to implement the demolition order. The law has to take its course,” the mayor said.

The city had set the demolition of 58 illegal structures from August 11-14 last year after the occupants refused to voluntarily vacate the area on claims that they are members of the marginalized sector and have been occupying the Bibak compound since 1982 and thus are qualified to stay in the area or be granted relocation privileges under Republic Act 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992.  

The city said the area was segregated from Original Certificate Title 01 in favor of the Bibak Dormitories Inc. in 1961 and thus “was slated to cater to the housing needs of the students coming from the BIBAK areas.”

The city also maintained the present occupants are private individuals who entered the property without permission and are now utilizing the area for profit.  Their structures were also not covered by building permits.

The city’s bid to clear the lot measuring about 5,000 square meters was supported by the former leaders of the Bibak Student Dormitories Inc., the Regional Development Council and the DENR-CAR. (Aileen Refuerzo)
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