DOTr chief wants ‘status quo’ amid CPA City Hall dispute

DOTr chief wants ‘status quo’ amid CPA City Hall dispute

THE chief of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) wants to maintain the status quo amid the Cebu Port Authority’s (CPA) various issues with Cebu City Hall, but the City Government is saying no when it comes to the alleged illegal construction of a port facility by the CPA in front of the hotly contested Compania Maritima premises.

In a press conference on Friday, April 19, 2024 at Nustar Resort and Casino, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said DOTr Secretary Jaime Bautista wished to maintain the status quo while awaiting the decision on the case that City Hall had brought before the Court of Appeals (CA), after the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 10 ruled that the CPA, and not the Cebu City Government, owned the Compania Maritima premises.

The lot in question is part of the area to be redeveloped under an P8 billion joint venture between the Cebu City Government and Megawide Construction Corp. to modernize the Carbon Public Market. The RTC’s rulings have rendered the 156-slot mechanical parking and Puso Village commercial strip that Megawide had already built there, inoperable for over a year now.

The CPA is an attached agency of the DOTr.

“With respect to CPA, the Secretary would have wished for a status quo so that whatever is the case that is ongoing, we’re happy to reach the Supreme Court,” Rama said about his intention to fight all the way to the end for ownership of the disputed area.

However, Rama said the status quo would not mean that the CPA could go on with its construction activities without getting the necessary building permits.

City Hall is also at odds with the CPA over the CPA’s construction of a port extension facility at the back of the National Museum of the Philippines-Cebu without securing a building permit from the Office of the Building Official (OBO).

Last March 15, the City Government filed a case against the CPA before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas over the construction of that wharf as well as 17 other structures, some in the Cebu International Port, without the necessary permits.

The CPA has maintained that the port extension project is not within the territorial jurisdiction of the Cebu City OBO, and has continued with its construction.

Rama said a status quo will not include preventing the City Government from getting into the area, particularly when the area has a lot of revenue issues.

“There are activities where the city government can exercise (its powers), it being a local government, including, among others, the road, because they cannot be closing the road because that is a public road,” Rama said of a third issue that the City has with the CPA.

Last Wednesday, in City Hall’s continuing feud with the port authority, Cebu City Administrator Collin Rosell accused the CPA of closing ML Quezon Blvd., a road network stretching from the National Museum of the Philippines-Cebu toward the area near the Qimonda Building at the corner of Juan Luna Extension.

“They cannot be closing the road because that’s a public road,” Rama said on Friday.

“So (on) that matter, we don’t talk about status quo,” Rama said, “We will be pursuing still” the recovery of that road.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Rosell said the CPA had closed off the road and used it for cargo storage and parking for cargo handlers.

Rosell denied allegations that the City is disrupting CPA’s port operations, asserting that the City is just enforcing the law due to the CPA’s violations.

He highlighted the lack of permits and environmental compliance for construction within the CPA premises, stressing that the area belongs to the City of Cebu, which the city aims to reclaim.

SunStar Cebu tried to get a comment from the CPA, but to no avail. / AML, CTL


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