Capitol to ask court to drop Cebu province as defendant in the Naga landslide case
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu Provincial Legal Officer Orvi Ortega will ask a Cebu City Regional Trial Court to drop the provincial government as a defendant in the P4.5-billion environmental class suit lodged by the families of the victims of the landslide in Naga City in September 2018.
The Cebu Provincial government is named defendant of the case along with Apo Land and Quarry Corporation (ALQC), Apo Cement Corp. and Cemex Holdings Philippines Inc., Mines and Geosciences Bureau in Central Visayas (MGB-7) and Naga City government.
The case stemmed from the massive landslide that hit Barangay Tinaan in Naga City on Sept. 20, 2018 that residents blamed on the quarrying activity of ALQC, an aggregate supplier of Apo Cement, which operates a cement manufacturing plant in Naga City.
The landslide affected 80 hectares of the surrounding area, claimed the lives of 78 people and displaced 444 families, all of whom were prevented to return to the area. Another group, over a thousand families within the one-kilometer radius of the landslide’s ground zero, were likewise forced out of their homes for over two months.
The lawsuit asks for actual and moral damages for the landslide victims, rehabilitation fund for the landslide area and for the halt of the quarry operations in the mountains of Naga City.
On Thursday afternoon, Cebu City RTC Branch 23 Presiding Judge Generosa Labra started to hear the case, particularly on the petition for the issuance of a temporary environmental protection order against the quarry operations.
“We will plead nga i-drop ta as defendant kay wala man tay labot gyod ana nga kaso. Wala silay course of action against us,” Ortega told CDN Digital.
Environmental lawyer Benjamin Cabrido, lead counsel of the landslide victims who stood as complainants, explained that the province would only be asked to conduct a carrying capacity study to assess the limits of the mainland and islands of Cebu in terms of quarry operations.
But Ortega said the course of action asked by the complainants may be done by simply making a request at the Capitol and should not necessarily be dealt through a legal action.
“Kung ang course of action lang is to determine the carrying capacity, di man kinahanglan pa nga i-agi sa kaso. Pwede ra man mosulat sa province o mo-coordinate sa PENRO (Provincial Environment and natural Resources Office),” Ortega said.
The court gave Ortega 15 days to file the motion seeking to drop the provincial government as a defendant of the case./elb
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