CA 18th division: Sale of 45-hectare SRP lot to FLI, SM-Ayala Consortium was legal
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Court of Appeals (CA) 18th Division affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court in Cebu City to dismiss a petition for declaratory relief and injunction filed by Lawyer Romulo Torres against the Cebu City Council.
In a decision promulgated on April 30, 2019, the 18th division said that there was no conflict between City Ordinance (CO) No. 2332 and Resolution No. 130418 which allowed the sale of 45.2-hectares of the 300-hectare South Road Properties (SRP).
A copy of the CA’s order was received by the City Council secretariat on May 21, 2019.
Torres argued that CO No. 2332 authorized the sale of SRP lots through an unsolicited proposal. But this cannot be done without prior approval from the City Council.
He said that the ordinance passed in 2012 protects the SRP from unlawful and unauthorized transactions.
For Torres, Resolution No. 130418 passed on 2014 contradicted provisions of the ordinance. He said that the resolution authorized the disposal of the SRP lots through public bidding. It also authorized former Mayor Michael Rama to represent the city during the sale.
But RTC Branch 9 Judge Alexander Acosta dismissed Torres’ petition and ruled that he found “no actual case or controversy calling for the exercise of judicial power.”
“The resolution, being merely an implementing resolution, cannot be construed to be in conflict with said ordinance. There is no iota of doubt that the resolution is valid,” said Acosta’s 2015 order.
The CA’s 18th division upheld Acosta’s ruling. It said that the judge did not “err” in it’s decision to dismiss the case and to dismiss the motion for reconsideration filed by Torres on December 18, 2015.
The decision was signed by Associate Justice Dorothy Montejo Gonzaga and concurred by Associate Justices Edgardo Delos Santos and Marilyn Lagura-Yap.
Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia of Barug PDP-Laban told CDN Digital that the CA decision affirmed the validity of the sale of the 45.2 hectare property to Filinvest and SM-Ayala Land Consortium for P16.7 billion.
With the CA’s affirmation, the administration of mayor-elect Edgar Labela will already be able to proceed with the collection of payment from the Filinvest and SM-Ayala Land consortium, Garcia told CDN Digital in a phone interview.
Even if Torres brings his case to the Supreme Court, Garcia said this will not stop the city from accepting SRP lot payments and for the buyers to already proceed with their development plans for the property.
In an earlier interview, outgoing Mayor Tomas Osmeña said that the sale was illegal. He also refused to accept the downpayment of P1.9 billion paid by the consortium. The money was later on deposited in court.
With the CA ruling, Garcia said that Torres should already rest his case.
“I trust Mayor Labella will allow the consortium to develop the land because that was what he said during the campaign. This development will bring in 25,000 jobs for the Cebuanos,” Garcia said. /dcb
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