Union backs CPA in latest legal tussle with Cebu City

Cebu Port
Cebu PortFile Photo

THE Cebu Port Authority (CPA) employees union has condemned the Cebu City Government’s actions against the port authority.

In a statement on Thursday, May 2, 2024, union officials and members expressed their support for the management of CPA and the Cebu Port Commission (CPC), as the port authority is embroiled in a new legal battle against the Cebu City Government.

“We send our strong support to the management and condemn the obvious act of violence, chaos, and grave abuse of authority committed by the members of the Probe (Cebu City’s Prevention Restoration Order Beautification Enhancement team) and OBO (Office of the Building Official) led by City Administrator Collin Rosell under the orders of the Cebu City mayor on April 1, 2024, where they forcefully entered the port’s premises, destroyed some structures, and stopped the current port expansion project,” the union said in a statement posted on its official Facebook page on Thursday.

Last April 1, some officials and personnel from the OBO, Probe and the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office destroyed the fence and entered the base port at the back of the National Museum of the Philippines Cebu building.

They installed rail fences to block the entrance to the CPA’s wharf extension project located across the Compania Maritima.

The Cebu City Government argued that the CPA refused and failed to secure the necessary building permit for the project. But the CPA said the City has no “territorial jurisdiction” over the base port, adding that the port authority has the right to develop infrastructure and improvement without seeking the local government unit’s approval.

Before this, the City Government filed various cases against the CPA for its infrastructure lacking building permits.

In the statement, the union cited Section 6 of Republic Act 7621, or the Charter of the Cebu Port Authority, which states that all seas, lakes, rivers and navigational inland waters within the province of Cebu are under its territorial jurisdiction.

“With our strong support, we also encourage our leadership through CPA management and the CPC to give importance to the port’s security which we considered a second home such as filing a complaint against those involved in the incident, particularly those who have committed grave abuse of authority,” the union said.

Last Monday, April 29, CPA general manager Francisco Comendador III filed a 34-page administrative complaint before the Office of the President through the Department of the Interior and Local Government 7 against Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama for alleged “abuse of authority,” among others.

According to CPA’s official Facebook page, the complaint was for Rama’s alleged violation of Administrative Order 23 series of 1992 or for oppression, misconduct in office, gross negligence, or dereliction of duty, and abuse of authority.

The CPA and the Cebu City Government have been at odds with each other over the ownership of the Compania Maritima premises.

In December 2022, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) granted the CPA a writ of preliminary injunction against the City Government, thus barring it from occupying any portion of the Compania Maritima premises.

The City Government, in April 2023, contested the RTC ruling before the Court of Appeals (CA). The decision is still pending.

The row started when the City Government claimed ownership of Compania Maritima in 2013 by obtaining a tax declaration certificate for the property.

In July 2015, the National Government, with CPA as a representative, filed a complaint against the City Hall, asking the RTC to stop the City Government from exercising acts of ownership over the property and to declare its tax declaration void.

On April 19, 2024, Rama met Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista, and both agreed to commit to a status quo until the CA comes out with its ruling.

The CPA is an attached agency of the Department of Transportation. / EHP

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