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Shipyards file TRO, injunction against Consolacion Mayor amid reclamation protest

By: Dyrecka Letigio - CDN Digital Multi-Media Reporter | July 01,2021 - 12:52 AM

Consolacion policemen are back to patrolling and inspecting the coastal area in Barangay Tayud in this September 12, 2020, photo. | Photos from Consolacion Police

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Shipyards and shipping companies are set to face the court Thursday, July 1, 2021, over their prayer for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and writ of a preliminary injunction over the issuance of business permits by the Municipality of Consolacion valid for only six months.

The Philippine Rigid Corporation, Fortune Shipworks Inc., Nagasaki Shipyard Inc., PKS Shipping Inc., and Uni-Orient Pearl Ventures Inc., filed the case against Mayor Joannes Alegado of the Municipality of Consolacion and his Business Permit and Licensing Office (BPLO) head, Judith Pepito on June 29, 2021.

The companies are seeking an ex parte 72-hour TRO and another 20-day TRO over the business permits the municipal government issued that expired on June 30, 2021, saying this was violative of the municipal’s revised tax code and ordinance.

In their petition, the shipping companies said that they applied for business permits early this year paying taxes and other fees equivalent to a business permit valid for a year, despite the permits’ validity lasting only half as before.

It can be noted that Vice Mayor Teresa Alegado, the mayor’s mother, announced on January 27, 2021, that due to an incoming public-private partnership for the creation of the Seafront Reclamation Project, it was high time that shipyards ceased operating in the area.

The shipping yard companies protested the project because it would affect their decades-long operations in the area and have aired out this concern in various forums to the municipal government as early as January 2021.

READ: Shipyard owners protest reclamation plan of Cebu town ruled by mother and son

The municipal government then started issuing 6-months valid business permits that would be renewable upon the discretion of the mayor to shipyards in Barangay Tayud.

The petitioners argued to the municipal government that this policy is a “contravention of provisions under law,” especially the Consolacion Charter and the Municipal Tax Code.

The shipyards, then, expressed their objection to the 6-months validity of the business permit, but Mayor Alegado remained unmoved by their requests and, instead, asked to produce an existing lease agreement or tenurial instrument from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Tenurial instruments are leases, permits, agreements, joint venture or production-sharing agreements, and licenses concerning the development, exploration, and utilization of the country’s natural resources.

In the case of the Consolacion shipyards, it was for the use of the foreshore areas in Barangay Tayud.

The petitioners noted that such document was never a requirement for their getting a business permit in the past, nor has it been stipulated in the Consolacion Tax Code as a requirement for establishments in the shipping and shipyard industry in relation to the issuance of a business permit.

The shipyards tried to seek an extension of their business permit until December 30, 2021, but they were issued a Denial Letter by Alegado on June 18, 2021. They claimed to have been “singled out” because they objected to the 6-months validity of business permits.

“Ever since the Petitioners raised their objections against the proposed reclamation area that is also occupied and used by the Petitioners, Respondent Mayor Alegado appears to have singled out Petitioners,” they said.

Should the business permits of the shipyards expire, this will result in the termination of 302 employees, 539 contractors’ employees, termination of numerous ship repair and drydocking contracts, absence of repair facilities for the continuing maintenance of the Philippine Navy ships, and the non-usage of infrastructure built over 60 years, and the “crippling of the local and national shipyard industry.”

The shipyard companies claim that Alegado committed grave abuse of discretion by the issuance of a business permit valid only for six months and for requiring additional documents that are not stipulated in the Tax Code.

They claimed he also committed grave abuse of discretion for denying the business permit application of the petitioners even after they have complied with the necessary requirements stipulated in the tax ordinance.

The petitioners are asking the court to issue a TRO that would prohibit the Municipality of Consolacion from closing down their businesses due to the “expiration” of their business permits.

Furthermore, they are asking for a Writ of Preliminary Injunction and a Writ of Prohibition to ensure that the municipal government cannot force them to suspend their operations while the case is on trial.

Finally, the shipyards pray to the court for a Writ of Certiorari to set aside the denial letter of the mayor to the Petitioner’s request for a renewed business permit.

The case is set to be heard at the Regional Trial Court in Mandaue City, Cebu, at 2 pm today, July 1, 2021, in the sala of Honorable Judge Allan Graciano.

The Municipal Legal Office (MLO) is set to represent Mayor Alegado and the municipal government in the case. /rcg

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TAGS: BPLO, business permit, Consolacion, Mayor Joannes Alegado, Temporary Restraining Order, TRO

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