In a letter to the Commission on Audit (COA), Councilor Margot Osmeña asked the agency’s guidance on a court order mandating the city’s depository banks to pay the money judgment of P133 million to the Rallos family.
City Hall also called on Filinvest not to stop its payments to the city.
The real estate company held back its installment payment for lots in the South Road Properties (SRP) after several parcels were identified for auction by the court sheriff.
“May we request your guidance on the issue so that the City Council will be able to properly preserve and protect the funds and properties of the city government,” said Osmeña in her letter to to COA chairperson Ma. Gracia Pulido Tan.
Osmeña invoked COA circular 2001-002 on procedures in claiming money payments from local government units (LGUs) under Presidential Decree No. 1445 or the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines.
In a Feb. 27 ruling, Regional Trial Court Judge James Himalaloan ordered two depository banks of the city to release the “correct account numbers” of the city government to facilitate payment of P133 million in just compensation to the Rallos heirs.
The judge threatened to cite in contempt the Philippine Veterans Bank (PVC) and the Philippine Postal Savings Bank (PPSB) if they failed to do so.
The city has filed a motion for reconsideration on the ruling.
City lawyers argued that all monetary claims or actions against a government agency should be coursed through COA.
Councilor Osmeña said the city is also facing auction proceedings over its properties located at the SRP.
“We were told that in a case decided by the Supreme Court, all money claims against the government must first be filed with the COA, which must act upon it in 60 days,” she said.
If the claim is rejected, the claimant can elevate the matter to the SC and in effect sue the State, she added.
Mayor Rama also sent a separate request to COA to intervene in the issue.
Sheriff Eugenio Fuentes has scheduled a public auction of 9.7 hectares of the South Road Properties (SRP) on April 10.
Ponce, Rama’s legal adviser, said the auction should not cause Filinvest to stop its monthly amortizations to the city.
“It would have been a different case if the property had defects,” he said.
Ponce said defects would include an erroneous survey of the property sold to Filinvest or defective lot title.
Ponce said everything was in order when the city sold a portion of its SRP lot to the developer.
Tristan Las Marias, Filinvest FVP for Visayas and Mindanao, said his company will withhold payments until the auction levy is resolved.
Filinvest payments worth P600 million per year are one of the main sources of Cebu City’s 2012 budget. /Ador Vincent Mayol and Doris C. Bongcac