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Reconsider TRO bid on cemetery closure, Osmeña asks court

By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol January 06,2015 - 08:26 AM

Former Cebu City mayor and congressman Tomas Osmeña asked the court to reconsider an earlier ruling that rejected his petition for a temporary restraining order against the closure of  the Doña Pepang Cemetery.

In a pleading filed in court, he said  Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama has no authority to close the cemetery.

“It is outside his power to order its closure, order the removal of tombs, graves, and niches,” said Osmeña assisted by lawyer Benjamin Militar.

Last Nov. 28, 2013, Judge Alexander Acosta of the Regional Trial Court Branch 9 denied Osmeña’s plea to stop the  closure of the Doña Pepang Cemetery which Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama wants to convert into a heritage park.

The judge said he was not convinced that a TRO should be issued as “there is no urgency that would cause serious damage to the petitioner.”

Rama earlier ordered the transfer of all graves in the cemetery, except for the Osmeña Mausoleum, in order to implement a 2008 plan to rehabilitate the area and develop an Osmeña Memorial Park.

No more burials were allowed in the area after All Saints’ Day last Nov. 1.

Notices were posted requiring all remains in the cemetery to be transferred by Nov. 30, 2014. Settlers were also told to vacate.

Osmeña filed the legal action, arguing that Rama has no right to disturb the present condition of the cemetery which is named after the late wife of former president Sergio Osmeña Sr., Estefania Chiong Veloso.

Militar said the Cebu Archdiocese, which used to own the cemetery, rented out spaces which were vacant to informal settlers.

“It was in this context that petitioner’s (Osmena), as the then city mayor, wrote then Archbishop of Cebu Ricardo Cardinal Vidal asking to turn the cemetery into a park so that its historical significance could be preserved,” he said.

A public consultation was conducted by City Hall with affected families who have remains of loved ones buried in the Roman Catholic cemetery.

Although the city government vowed not to touch the remaining graves unless an agreement is made with the affected families, Militar said, it does not “cure” Rama’s illegal move to close down the cemetery.

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TAGS: Cebu City, Doña Pepang, park, Tomas Osmeña

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