Cebu City Legal Office to withdraw declaratory relief case from court
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Cebu City Legal Office is preparing to withdraw the case of declaratory relief to void the 2015 sale of a 45-hectare South Road Properties (SRP) lot following the approval of the Cebu City Council.
“Pursuant to the request of the Sangguniang Panglungsod to withdraw the ‘midnight case’ which is a Petition for Declaratory Relief, through SP Resolution No. 15-0154-2019, the City Legal Office is ready to file a motion to withdraw the said petition for being fatally defective, among other legally meritorious grounds,” said Lawyer Rey Gealon, city legal officer, in a text message to the media.
Recently, the City Legal Office have asked the City Council to withdraw the case following the inhibition of Judge Soliver Peras to hear the case and the plans to reshuffle it.
Gealon said the City Legal office found no merit in the petition for declaratory relief to declare as void the Negotiated Sales on Installment executed on the SRP in 2015 filed by the previous administration.
“The City Legal Office cannot be bounded for any case filed without merit or without any ground whatsoever because it may reflect (on the) quality of the lawyers composing the office,” he said.
The case was filed with the approval of 14th City Council dominated by the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan councilors (BO-PK), allies of former mayor, Tomas Osmeña.
However, the 15th City Council dominated by administration councilor of Partido Barug-PDP Laban, chose to heed the call of the City Legal Office to withdraw the case since the Court of Appeals denied the petition of a certain Romulo Torres, who argued the sale of the 45 hectare property to the SM-Ayala consortium in 2015 was illegal.
The Council was divided on the case, but the majority administration allies approved of the withdrawal of the case with seven councilors against the six opposition councilors who objected to it.
Three councilors, Jerry Guardo, David Tumulak, and Leah Japson abstained from voting.
Tumulak particularly abstained from voting because he was the presiding officer of the 14th City Council when the request to the City Legal to file a declaratory relief was approved by the Council.
Guardo and Japson did not put into record their choice to abstain from voting, but Guardo already recently expressed his plans to join Partido Barug.
Minority floor leader, Councilor Nestor Archival, said in session that the 15th Council had to consider the resolution of the 15th City Council as the previous council ‘obviously’ found controversy in the sale.
He also argued that the 15th City Council could not decide on the matter because the city legal office used the wrong case number in their request to withdraw the declaratory relief.
However, Councilor Raymond Garcia, majority floor leader, said that the case number was only a matter of typographical error and he immediately requested the City Legal to correct it.
Yet the decision of the council can still be done because Garcia said they were deciding on the premise of the content of the case and not merely its number.
Currently, the City Legal will be filing the motion to the withdraw to the Regional Trial Court in Cebu City and the case for declaratory relief filed by the previous administration will no longer proceed to court./dbs
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