THE Cebu City government won’t surrender easily.
Mayor Michael Rama yesterday filed a petition before the Court of Appeals (CA) to stop the enforcement of a P133 million money judgement in favor of the Rallos family over a lot dispute that started in the 1960s.
The city government asked the CA to nullify the decision of the Regional Trial Court, which ordered the city government to pay up.
“We were always on the defensive side before. Now, it’s time to launch an offense,” said lawyer Jade Ponce, the mayor’s consultant.
Named respondents in the case are Cebu RTC Judge James Himalaloan and sheriff Eugenio Fuentes.
In an interview, Ponce said the RTC’s failed to consider a 1940 ruling about a compromise with the Rallos family that had donated a lot in Sambag II lot to the city for a road.
The “convenio” or a compromise agreement between feuding descendants of the Rallos family was discovered last July 2011, aftter the RTC had already issued its verdict.
The “convenio” formed the basis for the decision of the Court of First Instance (now the RTC) dated October 18, 1940.
The judge said the newly discovered evidence of the defendant was not a supervening event that would change the judgement of the case, which has become final and executory.
In a Jan. 26 ruling, Judge Himalaloan said he found no merit to rescind the previous order for Cebu City to pay P133 million to the Rallos family.
In filing the petition yesterday, Mayor Rama was accompanied by city lawyers and members of a faction of the Rallos family.
Virginia Rallos, 69, said they were the actual heirs of Rev. Fr. Vicente Rallos, owner of the road lot Sambag II that was taken over by the city in 1963.
Virginia said she is was one of Fr. Rallos’ grandchildren and wasn’t informed about the lawsuit filed against the city.
Virginia and Marian Rallos said they learned about the case filed by Lucina Rallos and other releatives in 2009 when the trial court already came up with a ruling.
She said they asked the National Bureau of Investigation to examine the signatures of Lucina and company for verification.
Virginia, whose faction has about 71 claimants, said they supported the petition filed by Rama to annul and set aside the judgement rendered by the RTC.
Ponce said no public funds should be released since there is doubt raised by the identities of the Rallos heirs.
“As to who the actual claimants are is still being questioned. Why do other government officials want the city to immediately pay (the Rallos family?),” Ponce said.
The court sheriff has tagged some lots in the South Road Properties (SRP) for public auction to settle the claim of the Lucina Rallos and other heirs. Reporter Ador Vincent Mayol