Baseport ‘not under’ Cebu City

OWNERSHIP DISPUTE.  Residents flock to the baywalk at the South Road Properties in Cebu City on Sunday, March 17, 2024, to enjoy the late afternoon breeze. Many are oblivious to the ongoing dispute between the City Government and the Cebu Port Authority over ownership of land and structures in the vicinity. Last Friday, March 15, the Office of the Building Official of Cebu City filed criminal and administrative cases against the CPA before the anti-graft office for constructing buildings and a wharf, including the reinforced concrete deck in front of the Compania Maritima (left), without the necessary building permits. /
OWNERSHIP DISPUTE. Residents flock to the baywalk at the South Road Properties in Cebu City on Sunday, March 17, 2024, to enjoy the late afternoon breeze. Many are oblivious to the ongoing dispute between the City Government and the Cebu Port Authority over ownership of land and structures in the vicinity. Last Friday, March 15, the Office of the Building Official of Cebu City filed criminal and administrative cases against the CPA before the anti-graft office for constructing buildings and a wharf, including the reinforced concrete deck in front of the Compania Maritima (left), without the necessary building permits. / AMPER CAMPAÑA

THE Cebu Baseport is not within the territorial jurisdiction of the Cebu City Government.

This was the statement the Cebu Port Authority (CPA) issued on Saturday, March 16, 2024.

The Office of the Building Office (OBO) of Cebu City, on Friday, March 15, filed a complaint against the CPA before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas for constructing buildings and a wharf without the necessary building permits.

It slapped the CPA with criminal cases for 18 counts of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act (RA) 3019, or Usurpation of Authority under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code, and violation of Section 301 in relation to Section 213 of Presidential Decree (PD) 1096, or the National Building Code of the Philippines, as well as administrative cases for grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

The complaint was addressed to Glenn Castillo, the former general manager of CPA, and Francisco Comendador III, the incumbent general manager.

“On the illegal construction allegations, we stand firm on our position that the Cebu Port Authority is not within the territorial jurisdiction of the Office of Building Official of Cebu City,” CPA said in a statement.

It said the OBO was beyond the bounds of its authority as provided in Section 207 of PD 1096.

It cited a 22-page Regional Trial Court decision on June 5, 2023, which identified the Republic of the Philippines, represented by the CPA, as the beneficial owner of properties within the Cebu Baseport.

The court decision was regarding the ownership of the Compania Maritima.

“This issue has been going on for the past several years, and it is sad to know that the conflict between the two government institutions will only result in a long-term negative impact on Cebu’s economic development,” CPA added.

The Cebu City Government and CPA have been involved in an ongoing rift over the ownership of the Compania Maritima.

Recently, Mayor Michael Rama flagged CPA’s seaport extension project near the Compania Maritima and the back of the National Museum of the Philippines at the Plaza Independencia.

Compania Maritima was supposed to be included in the ongoing Carbon Market redevelopment project, a joint venture agreement between the Cebu City Government and Megawide Construction Corp.

The OBO had issued 15 notices of violation to the CPA dated Feb. 2, 2023, for buildings and structures, 10 of which are in the Cebu International Port (CIP) Complex.

These are the CPA main administration building, CPA social hall and canteen, CPA sports facility, CPA PSSEMD office building, CPA records building and fabrication area, CPA powerhouse and water pumphouse, CPA GAD Center, CIP One-Stop Shop and current GM and Landbank building and Bureau of Customs 4 office building.

Notices were also issued for the PMO-Pier 4 office building in Berth 13, Pier 1 ticket booths at the Pier 1 entrance gate, Pier 1 passenger terminal building and Pier 3 passenger terminal building, all in the Cebu Baseport; as well as for the fence, guardhouse and covered walk, whose locations were not specified.

The CPA said it only recently learned about the latest legal action taken by the OBO, particularly the filing of several complaints over the alleged violations of the National Building Code, but said it has yet to receive a copy of the complaints.

“In due time, CPA will answer all unfounded allegations in the proper forum,” CPA in the statement. / EHP, RJM

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