Editorial: ‘Saving’ Fuente Osmeña

FORMER congressman Pablo Garcia is not only a former three-term Cebu governor but is also a known constitutionalist, so his legal opinion should count, especially on the issue of the ownership of the Fuente Osmeña. It is good, therefore that Gov. Hilario Davide III gave in to Garcia's prodding for the Capitol to contest a court ruling declaring Cebu City as the owner of the park.

Provincial Legal Office (PLO) head Orvi Ortega filed yesterday a “notice of appeal” with, Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 23, with Davide telling reporters that the legal office found lapses with the court's decision.

Garcia had sent a letter to Ortega reminding him that if the Province won't act to save the property, it would constitute dereliction of duty.

“To protect and preserve the title and ownership of a piece of property covered by duly issued certificate of title in its name, you have the bounden duty and supreme responsibility to file that motion before the expiration of the 15-day reglementary period,” his letter said. Garcia had argued that Capitol owns Fuente.

But even as he has ordered Ortega to file the notice of appeal, the governor insisted on his personal stand that nobody should claim ownership over Fuente Osmeña because the Cebuanos own it. When the court released its ruling last month, he announced that the Province would not contest it.

While the governor's intention may be noble, his stand is open to other interpretations, one of which involves Davide's relation with Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, who is known as his political ally. As Garcia noted, Davide's stand could make people suspect that ownership of the property “gisabot-sabotan lang.”

In a way, this case shows what fiscalizing can do to governance. With nobody questioning Davide's decision not to contest the ruling, perceived lapses in the decision would not have been noted. The ownership of Fuente Osmeña would already have been settled when it is not yet so legally. That would have been an injustice to constituents of the Province who does not share Davide's stand on the matter.

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