‘COA order won’t affect auction’

Posted on November 17, 2011

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The public auction of a 9.7-hectare lot in the South Road Projects (SRP) of Cebu City will push through on Dec. 13 despite the pronouncement of the Commission on Audit that money claims against the government are beyond the jurisdiction of the court.

Sheriff Eugenio Fuentes said no one can stop him from conducting the public auction unless the Cebu City government secures a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the court.

“I’m just doing what the court mandates me to do,” Fuentes said.

The public auction is set from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 13 at the Sheriff’s Office in the Palace of Justice in Cebu City.

Proceeds of the auction will be given to the Rallos heirs as just compensation for a parcel of land used by the city government as a road in 1963.

The court has ordered the Cebu City government to pay the Ralloses P133 million for the property.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama has been trying to stop the court decision and garnishment of city funds from being enforced even as the city’s motion for reconsideration was denied.

Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge James Stewart Ramon Himalaloan declined to comment on the issue.

The mayor was encouraged by the letter of COA Regional Director Delfin Aguilar who said “the issuance of the writ of execution for the satisfaction of the money judgment against the City of Cebu may be considered beyond the power of the court,” and that a notice of garnishment of government funds needs prior COA clearance.

But yesterday, RTC Judge Meinardo Paredes, former executive judge, said the COA gave a mere “opinion” and that the court ruling on the case stays.

Sheriff Fuentes said the city government should have chosen the properties to be auctioned off but since it did not, this prompted sheriff Antonio Bellones to choose the lot at the SRP upon the recommendation of the Ralloses.

Bellones was the former sheriff assigned to implement the court order but he retired last month.

Jade Ponce, legal consultant of Mayor Rama, said they will seek a temporary restraining order from the Court of Appeals to stop the auction. They will also ask the CA to annul the money judgement of the RTC. Judge Himalaloan gave the go signal for the sheriff to execute the judgement last Sept. 23. /By Ador Vincent Mayol, Reporter
 

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