Court grants CPA’s petition for Preliminary Injunction over Compania Maritima legal battle
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 10 in Cebu City has granted the petition for a writ of Preliminary Injunction filed by the Cebu Port Authority (CPA) regarding the long-disputed Compania Maritima area.
In a 15-page order penned by Judge Soliver Peras issued on December 23, 2022, the court directed the City government of Cebu, being the defendant, to “restore and maintain the Republic and CPA’s peaceful possession and occupation of the entire Compania Maritima Area.”
The court also enjoined the city government from occupying the entire and any portion of the Compania Maritima Area and from “performing thereon any construction works and all kinds of activities,” interfering with the Republic’s rights and the CPA’s statutory right to “manage, administer, operate, maintain, improve, and develop the entire base port of Cebu.”
The Cebu City government, however, is set to file a motion for reconsideration.
In his ruling, Judge Peras said that the plaintiff, the CPA, has satisfactorily shown “prima facie” that it is entitled to the issuance of the injunctive writ. Prima facie, in legal term, means “accepted as correct until proven otherwise.”
A preliminary injunction is an order granted “at any stage of an action or proceeding prior to the judgment or final order, requiring a party or a court, agency or a person to perform or refrain from performing a particular act or acts.”
The court ruled that CPA has a right in esse (a clear and unmistakable right to be protected) and that there is a material and substantial invasion of the right of the plaintiff.
The court furthered that there is an urgent necessity for the issuance of the injunctive writ, and the adequacy of the remedy prayed for.
The Republic, represented by the CPA, claimed that the Compania Maritima Area forms part of the Baseport of Cebu, specifically Berths 28 and 33, and as part of the port. It belongs to the State and it is currently under the control of Cebu Port Authority.
The city government, for its part, claimed that the CPA does not have the right in esse because “since time immemorial, especially from the time of its creation in 1964, the City of Cebu, through its City Engineer is given the power of administration over its territories, including the ports.
“While Republic Act 3857 grants corporate powers and administrative powers to the City of Cebu, including the administration and management of ports, this ceased to be so, upon the creation of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) in 1974,” the court ruled.
The court added that Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) is in control of the financing, management, and operations of all public ports throughout the Philippines. However, with the creation of the Cebu Ports Authority (CPA), port management of the Port of Cebu falls within its sole jurisdiction.
Moreover, the court also disagreed with the argument of the city government that there is no substantial invasion of rights of the CPA.
“The infrastructures or improvements introduced by the City of Cebu within the contested premises constitute material invasion, as this deprives the Cebu Port Authority not only of the physical possession of the property but also binders to exercise of any acts of administration within the same,” the court said.
Sought for comment, City Attorney Eugene Orbita said they are set to file a motion for reconsideration.
“We have already (met) with the lawyers and secretary to the mayor, but the mayor, himself, wala (yet). We are preparing for a motion for reconsideration. If it could be done tomorrow, we will do it, but if we cannot finish that (then on the) first week of January (2023),” he told reporters in a phone interview on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, both the CPA and the Megawide Construction Corp., the entity behind the Carbon Market redevelopment, including the Compania Maritima area, refused to comment yet on this development.
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