26 August 2006

Dark clouds over City Hall

"INTERESTING TIMES" have visited the Naga city government as the Regional Trial Court orders City Hall and all other offices, mostly government, to be vacated over the next five days. Bicol Mail's lead story captures the prevailing mood: dark clouds hang over the horizon.

This issue is linked to the imprisonment last year of my colleague, Joe Perez, the Bicol Mail editor who alleged that money changed hands over the ejectment case between the city government on the one hand, and the heirs of the Mariano family on the other. Details of Joe's travails can be found here and here.

A map of the City Hall complex shows the agencies affected by the decision. Professional organizations which built and maintain their own buildings within the complex include the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Camarines Sur Medical Society, the Philippine Nurses Association and PICPA, the national accountants association. Not in the map is the Civic Center which houses the City Engineers and Building offices, the Radyo ng Bayan and Kabalikat, the Youth Center and Hostel, and public sports facilities.

A key sub-plot: is there bad faith in the
writ of execution pending appeal issued by the sala of RTC Judge Felimon Montenegro when the very same Court of Appeals decision it used as basis for said decision exempted the buildings and lots occupied by City Hall, the Hall of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation pending appeal?

The bigger picture framing the issue: will legal gobbledegook again trump plain common sense, as it is public knowledge that the properties under question were donated by the Mariano forebears?