(L-R) City legal counsel and administrator Atty. Arnel Pedrosa, facility overall supervisor Joseph Vincent Carpio, Councilor Elgin Damasco, and city ACTF chief and information officer Richard Ligad on August 26, 2019, at the New City Public Market.

The city government on Monday took back its four public facilities from erstwhile private operator Areza-Cruz Realty Development Company, Inc. (ACRDCI).

The two public markets, the slaughterhouse, and the public transport terminal were reclaimed by a team of city government representatives that included Joseph Vincent Carpio, Atty. Arnel Pedrosa, and Councilor Elgin Damasco.

Pedrosa, the city administrator and legal counsel, said they moved to reclaim the facilities after receiving last week the entry of judgment from the Supreme Court (SC) that permanently nullified the contract of the city government with ACRDI for the facilities.

“This is victory for all of us, not just for the city government and the Super Apuradong Administrasyon, but for all the people of Puerto Princesa. Victory ito sa amin, sa mga taga-palengke mismo na na-agrabyado ng husto at maging sa mga mamamayan ng lungsod dahil nasira ang image ng lungsod because of the situation ng mga markets natin,” said Pedrosa.

ACRDCI manager Teodoro Bundal received also Monday afternoon a letter from Pedrosa demanding Areza-Cruz to peacefully vacate and turn over the facilities to the city government.

In an interview with Bundal, he said they were advised by their superiors only to receive the letter.

He said he cannot speak in behalf of their lawyer, who is traveling to the city this week to present the side of the company.

“Ang totoo talaga niyan hindi kami nakapag-prepare kasi ang alam namin sa katapusan pa. Hintayin na lang po natin. Ang advise sa amin ‘Sige i-receive niyo lang.’ Ngayon siguro ako ay makikiusap din kay Sir Joseph, kasi unang-una sa lahat kami po ay hindi nakapag-prepare,” said Bundal.

Bundal said they are still going to coordinate with their higher-ups on the next thing to do.

Carpio, the appointed overall operations supervisor of the four facilities on August 23, said they are considering the retention of employees of Areza-Cruz.

“Sila ay naka-empleyo sa Areza corporation, pero hindi naman natin puwedeng sabihin na ‘hindi, dito na kayo.’ Kelangan siyempre mag-a-apply din sila. Titingnan natin kung puwede natin silang tanggapin. Siyempre naghahanap-buhay din ‘yan, so titingnan natin. [Bagama’t handa kaming tumanggap], nakahanda [din] kami, handa ang city government na punan ang kakulangan dito,” said Carpio.

Pedrosa also said the city government is willing to keep the employees, most especially those who have important responsibilities.

However, he reiterated that if they are not interested, the city government has available personnel to replace them.

Pedrosa also said they are going to file a case against ACRDCI for the bond it posted because the decision of the SC shows it is not entitled to an injunction.

Damasco, chair of the committee on public markets, meanwhile, advised Areza-Cruz to start packing up.

“Dapat maintindihan nila na simula sa oras na ito, city government na ang may posisyon and control ng terminal, slaughterhouse, at dalawang palengke natin. Wala na silang ibang dapat gawin kundi mag-balot,” said Damasco.

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