Court clears city mayor, councilors

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Monday, June 2, 2014

THE Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 9 dismissed a petition for indirect contempt against Cebu City officials filed by Lucena Rallos, one of the heirs of Fr. Vicente Rallos.

Cleared were Mayor Michael Rama, members of the 12th Sangguniang Panlungsod and 10 lawyers from the City Legal Office.

A similar petition filed against Philippine Veterans Bank Inc., one of the depository banks of the City Government, has been ordered dismissed by the court.


The case was filed by the Ralloses against the City and the bank, citing their failure to heed a previous Supreme Court ruling that the City is liable to pay P133 million for using their 4,654 square meter property in Barangay Sambag I as road-right-of-way since 1963.

In a three-page decision, RTC Branch 9 Judge Alexander Acosta upheld the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) First Division in September last year that dismissed the indirect contempt case for lack of merit.

Acosta also dismissed the case because of the Ralloses' failure to follow the rules on how money claims against a government will be executed or satisfied.

As earlier pointed out by the SC, Acosta said claimants have to seek first the Commission on Audit's (COA) approval of the monetary claim even if there is a final and executory judgment from the high tribunal validating the claim against the City.

"Without compliance by Lucena and the heirs of Fr. Rallos...their lamentations that the respondents (City) are unjustly refusing the execution of the decisions and orders do not hold any water," he said.

Acosta also said they found the City's explanation on its failure to pay the Ralloses to be reasonable.

The City had earlier invoked Section 305 (a) of the Local Government Code which provides that "no money shall be paid out of the local treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation ordinance or law."

They also cited Section 9 (c) Rule 39 of the Rules of Court and Administrative Circular No. 10-2000 of the SC which provides that "disbursements of public funds must be covered by the corresponding appropriation as required by law.

The functions and public services rendered by the state cannot be allowed to be paralyzed or disrupted by the diversion of public funds from their legitimate and specific objects, as appropriated by law."

The City added that all money claims against the government must be filed before COA.

"After a perusal of the petitions, it is evident that herein respondents (City) did not really intend to contemptuously disobey the order of the court and finds respondents' explanations to be plausible.

“Corollary, the petitions for indirect contempt are bereft of merit," said Acosta. (PDF)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 03, 2014.

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