Cases vs CPA stem from illegal constructions, not ownership dispute

‘VIOLATION.’ Workers on the Cebu Port Authority’s (CPA) P197 million project to build a reinforced concrete deck at the Cebu Baseport in front of the Compania Maritima on March 15, 2024.
‘VIOLATION.’ Workers on the Cebu Port Authority’s (CPA) P197 million project to build a reinforced concrete deck at the Cebu Baseport in front of the Compania Maritima on March 15, 2024. Amper Campaña

THE criminal and administrative cases filed against the Cebu Port Authority (CPA) do not concern ownership, but rather the illegal construction of buildings and a wharf in front of the Compania Maritima premises.

This is what Cebu City Legal Officer Carlo Vincent Gimena told members of the media during an interview on Monday, March 18, 2028, in response to inquiries about the statement released by the CPA on Saturday, March 16, 2024.

“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 (OBO) of Cebu City as it is undoubtedly beyond the bounds of authority granted to the City's Building Official as provided in Section 207 of Presidential Decree No. 1096 (PD 1096) or the National Building Code of the Philippines,” CPA said in a statement.

Gimena said there is nothing under PD 1096 that exempts the CPA from obtaining a building permit, challenging the port authority to cite a specific provision that supports such exemption.

Gimena argued that regarding the issue at hand, it does not matter who owns the premises, emphasizing that the fact remains: if anyone constructs any infrastructure, they should secure the necessary building permits from the OBO.

“(The issue) is not about the ownership, it is about the building of a structure without building permits,” Gimena said.

He said the OBO could attest that the CPA did not secure any building permits from them.

“This is totally a different issue, dili nato apil-apilon katong kaso, lahi man to (let’s not touch on the case that has nothing to do with this). Lahi to nga issue didto, kani lahi sad ni (It was a different case),” Gimena said.

Meanwhile, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama remained firm in his position that Compania Maritima premises belong to the Cebu City Government.

“No, they don’t have that ownership. I want them out. They should go to Consolacion…CPA (Cebu Port Authority) and CIP (Cebu International Port) and maybe, we can rearrange the pier. I will work it out in Manila,” Rama said in a press conference on Monday, March 18.

There has been a continuing disagreement between the Cebu City Government and the CPA regarding the ownership of the Compania Maritima.

On June 5, 2023, the Regional Trial Court, identified the Republic of the Philippines, represented by the CPA, as the rightful owner of properties within the Cebu Baseport.

On Thursday, March 14, 2024, Rama raised concerns about CPA's seaport extension project near Compania Maritima and the rear area of the National Museum of the Philippines at Plaza Independencia.

Over Cebu City Hall’s online program “Ingna’ng Mayor” on Thursday, Rama said he will be meeting Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista after his week-long trip in Taiwan to discuss matters pertaining to CPA and Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) project.

Both the CPA and CBRT are under DOTr’s jurisdiction.

Rama will be attending the 2024 Smart City and Expo, which is scheduled on March 19 to 22, 2024. He left for Taiwan on March 18, 2024.

On March 15, Cebu City’s OBO filed 18 counts of criminal cases against the CPA. These include violations 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 PD 1096.

Administrative cases were also filed 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.

It was in July 2013 when the City Government claimed ownership of Compania Maritima by obtaining a tax declaration certificate for the property.

On July 7, 2015, the National Government, represented by CPA, filed a lawsuit against City Hall, seeking to prevent the City Government from exercising ownership rights over the property and to invalidate its tax declaration.

On December 23, 2022, the Regional Trial Court, through a 15-page decision by Peras, granted CPA's request for a preliminary injunction, prohibiting the Cebu City Government from occupying any part of the Compania Maritima premises. (AML)


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