Court pushes trial on Balili case

Posted on November 12, 2012


 THE Capitol’s bid to regain the P37.8-million it paid for the controversial Balili property in barangay Tina-an, Naga City was validated by a court ruling last week.

In a ruling dated last Nov. 7, Regional Trial Court Judge Raphael Yrastorza of Branch 14 rejected a plea by widow Amparo Balili who asked to dismiss the Capitol’s petition.

The ruling cleared the way for a trial on the case on March 20 next year.

The Capitol sought a refund of part of the P98.9 million it paid for parts of the property that are submerged in water.

“Precisely the court would want to receive and hear the evidence for the defendants in order for the court to have defendants’ (Balili) evidence included in the determination of the case,” Yrastorza said.

The judge said the points raised by the defendants can “be ventilated after presentation of their evidence.”
The province bought the Balili property in 2008 for P98.9 million.

But a survey by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) showed that most of the 24.9 hectares of the Balili property bought by the province was underwater and classified as public domain.

Eight hectares of the property were purportedly submerged in water while another 1.4 hectares were planted with mangroves. The survey recommended that the province only pay for the dry land.

The province filed a case in court to collect P37.8 million from the defendants.

The amount represents the lots that are purportedly underwater.

In its petition, Capitol officials said they would have only paid for the dry land had they known that the contested lots were submerged and planted to mangroves.

Named defendants of the case are the the Estate of Luis Balili ; Amparo Balili , widow of the landowner; and lawyer Romeo Balili, the executor of the estate.
Graft charges were leveled against Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and eight other Capitol officials by the Ombdusman before the Sandiganbayan in relation to the Balili property purchase. Garcia is free on bail. /Ador Vincent Mayol, Reporter

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