CH ‘upset’ over Pabling’s statements

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

CEBU City officials reacted to the “unethical and irresponsible” statements of former congressman Pablo Garcia that the sale of South Road Properties (SRP) lots to corporations is illegal.

Mayor Michael Rama told reporters in a regular press conference yesterday that the matter has long been settled when former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Presidential Proclamation 843 on May 16, 2005.

“I hereby amend Proclamation 200-A dated May 22, 1967, which reserved for national improvement purposes certain parcels of land of the public domain... by reserving a certain portion thereof (2,956,929 square meters) as the SRP, transferring its ownership to the City Government of Cebu and declaring such area alienable and disposable, subject to private rights,” the proclamation read.


This means the City already has the proprietary right over the SRP.

Rama likened the statement to a dead person that people insist on resurrecting.

Purpose questioned

“For what? What is the agenda? I cannot understand. People should be careful in mentioning something that has long been discussed and solved,” he said.

Cebu City lawyers feel the same way.

City Attorney Jerone Castillo and Atty. Janeses Ponce, executive assistant IV, said rehashing the issue is ill-timed considering the City is entertaining possible investors.

The City Council has also scheduled an executive session today to discuss the proposed retirement facility to be constructed at the SRP.

I-Land Ways Philippines wants to lease 1.2 hectares of the SRP for the facility.

This may not be affected by Garcia’s statements, which only pertains to selling to corporations that would need the approval of Congress.

Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella said the SRP is already titled before the Registry of Deeds.

“The City sold parcels of the SRP in the exercise of proprietary function of Cebu City. The Commission on Audit (COA) also upheld the City’s right,” Labella said.

The COA decision was issued on July 20, 2009.

SRP Manager Roberto Varquez sent Sun.Star Cebu copies of the presidential proclamation, vicinity maps, Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) certificate of registration, transfer certificates of title, certificates of title and registration agreements, all pertaining to the 296 hectares of the SRP.

“The former congressman could have called to verify the issue because this is detrimental to the investors. This is so easy to verify,” Ponce also told Sun.Star Cebu.

Last Thursday, Garcia said all lots within SRP, including those occupied by SM Seaside City and Filinvest, cannot be sold by the City without the approval of Congress.

Garcia said the foreshore land in Mambaling which is now called SRP, and those up to Tangke in Talisay City were land of public domain.

His explanation

He said that because these foreshore lands were public domain even after these were reclaimed by the City, the sale of these lands is prohibited.

He said this is the reason Arroyo issued a presidential proclamation declaring it as alienable and disposable. She was setting conditions, which are pursuant to Section 60 of Commonwealth Act 141.

When SRP became alienable and disposable, two pre-patent land titles were issued. One was issued by then Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary Michael Defensor and the other by then DENR secretary Angelo Reyes.

Garcia said both former DENR secretaries set the conditions pursuant to Section 60 of Commonwealth Act 141, especially the need for approval by Congress and the Constitution that the lots cannot be sold to a corporation.

On the sale of the lots to SM and Filinvest during Osmeña’s term, Garcia said he is sure the deals violated the conditions because there were not approved by Congress.

He said he should know because he was a congressman until June 30, 2010.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 11, 2014.

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