The city government will move to oppose Areza-Cruz Realty Development Corporation, Inc.’ (Areza-Cruz or ACRDCI) new appeal for the Supreme Court (SC) to further review their dispute on the operation and management of the two public markets and the slaughterhouse in Puerto Princesa.
City administrator and legal officer Atty. Arnel Pedrosa, who confirmed that Areza-Cruz filed another plea before the SC, said it is obvious that the development corporation is only delaying what is inevitable.
Pedrosa pointed out that the SC’s decision, which his office received on April 29, was in favor of the city government.
“Hindi naman tayo nasu-surprise sa mga ganitong pleading kasi normally, ito talaga ang ipina-file ng isang losing litigant sa Supreme Court. But they are just buying time na lang din talaga siguro. Talagang malapit na ito sa dulo, at naniniwala kami na in the end, ito pa rin ‘yong magiging resolution [ng Supreme Court], na pabor pa din sa city government,” he said.
Pedrosa said the SC resolution dismissed the “petition for review” earlier filed by Areza-Cruz.
ACRDCI is the private company managing the city’s two public markets under an agreement with the city government signed March 2013 during former mayor Edward Hagedorn’s leadership.
The agreement also included the management of the city slaughterhouse and public transport terminal.
Pedrosa said the dispute between the city government and Areza-Cruz started in 2014 when the administration of Mayor Lucilo Bayron decided to take over the management of the facilities which the company claimed violated their lease contract.
“Eventually because of that attempt, itong Areza-Cruz ay nag-file ng injunction against the city government sa Regional Trial Court (RTC) — two cases ito, 50-78 doon sa market and slaughterhouse and 50-84 itong sa terminal,” Pedrosa pointed out.
The RTC decision also favored the city government for the public transport terminal, while the realty development corporation won the case for the management of the public markets and the slaughterhouse.
Pedrosa said this decision was overturned when they sought the decision of the Court of Appeals (COA) and it sided with the city government.
“Ang sabi ng Court of Appeals, void from the beginning ang lease contract na pinasok ng Areza-Cruz at ng city government. Dahil void from the beginning, dapat magkaroon ng mutual restitution ‘yong parties to terminate ‘yong contract. Dahil doon, umakyat ‘yong Areza-Cruz sa sa Supreme Court at ‘yon nga, noong Monday na-receive natin ‘yong minute resolution ng Supreme Court na dismissing the appeal or petition for review na isinampa ng Areza-Cruz dahil nakalagay doon na walang reversible error ‘yong Court of Appeals para i-exercise ng Supreme Court ‘yong kaniyang discretionary appellate jurisdiction,” he said.
He added the SC also pointed out that the recent ruling of the Commission on Audit (COA) was “substantive”, noting that it made the right decision.
Pedrosa said the SC ruled for the facilities to be turned over to the management of the city.
“We will file an opposition to this sa motion for reconsideration, then we will wait for the final resolution ng Supreme Court na kung saan ilalagay din siguro nila na final na ‘yong resolution ng kaso na ito and they will not entertain further pleadings,” he also said.
He said they expect a decision to be made by June or July this year.