Sheriff serves notice of levy in case city fails to pay Rallos heirs
The pressure is on for Cebu City Hall to pay the Rallos heirs.
This after a notice of levy was submitted by court sheriff Eugenio Fuentes before the Register of Deeds covering two sizable lots of the South Road Properties (SRP) last Wednesday.
Unless the city pays the heirs of Rev. Fr. Vicente Rallos P133 million for their lot the city government expropriated for a road in 1963, the SRP lots will be levied for payment.
Fuentes said two lots with an area of 97,621 square meters each are identified in the notice of levy that was served after Regional Trial Court Judge James Stewart Ramon Himalaloan affirmed the city’s obligation to pay the Rallos heirs.
Another document secured by Cebu Daily News revealed that the sheriff plans to sell in a public auction real properties of the city on Dec. 13, 2011, at the sheriff’s office inside the Palace of Justice.
Fuentes said the Ralloses have to pay to the Register of Deeds for the “levy on execution”—a requirement before public auction will be made.
Roy Rallos, one of the claimants, preferred to have the SRP lots levied.
“The SRP is a beautiful place. It seems expensive. The area is good for business,” Roy told Cebu Daily News over the phone.
He said Chinese businessmen might buy the lots being levied.
Roy said he couldn’t understand why Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama continues to refuse payment to them.
“There is already a decision of the Supreme Court (on the issue). Why won’t he obey it,” he said.
Rama declined to comment on the notice of levy.
His predecessor, Rep. Tomas Osmeña of Cebu City’s south district, said he told then Treasurer Ofelia Oliva to negotiate with the Ralloses because City Hall’s lawyers told them the family’s claims was a “tough case.”
“Ofelia said they were willing to accept an installment plan with no interest,” Osmeña said.
He said Rama, then a vice mayor, and former councilor Joy Pesquera objected to the plan.
“Since Rama was presumed to be more knowledgeable being a lawyer, I didn’t insist. Now we lost P58 million and we’re going to lose another P138 million plus interest,” Osmeña.
Everything through COA
The congressman declined to comment on the notice of levy on the SRP lots.
But lawyer Jade Ponce, one of Rama’s consultants, said any payment claims on government must comply with a Supreme Court circular.
The High Court, he said, mandated that all money claims against the government must be filed before the Commission on Audit (COA), which must act upon it within 60 days.
The circular also stated that the claimant may elevate the matter to the Supreme Court on certiorari if they find grounds to question the ruling.
“Actual enforcement must be coursed through the COA. Everything has to pass through COA,” Ponce said.
In a letter to COA Regional Director Delfin Aguilar, Rama said the city wanted to know whether or not previous garnishment in relation to the Rallos case was in compliance of the circular.
During the period Dec. 28, 2001, to Jan. 30, 2002, ex-sheriff Antonio Bellones made several garnishments amounting to P34,905,000.
Ponce said he believed that the COA wasn’t informed about the execution of the judgment on the Rallos case.
“I hope the sheriff will be more circumspect,” he said.
Ponce said the city will file a motion for reconsideration to contest the court’s denial of their motion to quash the Writ of Execution and set aside the Notice of Garnishment issued to four banks and SM companies.
“We have remedies in mind … We are dealing with public funds here. We can do no less but do what is right,” he said.
Joel Mari Yu, managing director of the Cebu Investments and Promotion Center (CIPC), questioned why the Ralloses had to choose the SRP lots to be levied.
“I don’t think the Rallos can choose the properties they want. I don’t think it’s up to them to decide which properties to dispose of,” said Yu who works with the SRP’s marketing arm.
He declined to comment further, saying he has to stay away from legalities.
Cebu City Hall earlier asked the court to stop the garnishment or seizure of its funds as payment to the Ralloses, citing “irreparable injury” to the city.
City lawyers said the subject of the notice of garnishment are government funds that were long appropriated for government operations and social services.
Notice of Garnishment was sent to the Land Bank of the Philippines, Philippine Postal Bank, Development Bank of the Philippines, and Philippine Veterans Bank.
The same notice was sent to SM Prime Holding Inc., SM Development Corp. and SM Investments Corp. at their offices in the Mall of Asia Complex in Pasay City, Metro Manila.
SM is building a mall at the South Road Properties (SRP) of Cebu City.
At least two of the banks said the city has enough funds to pay the P133 million it owed to the heirs of Rev. Fr. Vicente Rallos.
In refusing to pay the Ralloses, the city government secured an old document that showed the family ought to donate a part of the family’s property to the Cebu City government for road purposes.
A “convenio” or a compromise agreement approved by the court in the 1940s revealed the family’s arrangement regarding the road, which is now being used by the government. /By Ador Vincent Mayol and Patricia Andrea Pateña with a report from Correspondent Edison delos Angeles