Case stalling CSF market reconstruction junked

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO— A Regional Trial Court on September 16 dismissed the injunction case filed against Mayor Edwin “EdSa” Santiago and some department heads of the local government who are implementers of the demolition and reconstruction of the Old Public Market here.

It can be recalled that on May 19, 2021, the Pampanga Fernandino United Merchants and Traders Association Incorporation (PFUMTA), represented by President Rene Bonifacio Eusebio and Vice President Ricardo Ramos Jr., filed a civil case of Injunction with Prayer for Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Oder (TRO) and a Writ of Preliminary Injunction.

The case was filed to force the City Mayor, City Administrator, City Engineer’s Office, City Market Operations Division Office, City Planning and Development Coordinator’s Office, Sangguniang Panlungsod, and all other persons acting for and its behalf, to cease and desist from demolishing the market building and relocating the vendors.

One of the requisites for the issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction is the existence of a clear or vested right.

Based on the RTC findings, it appears that what plaintiffs-petitioners has was “license to occupy and operate particular stalls in the public market. Their possession and use of these facilities could not be characterized as fixed and absolute.”

Thus, the court denied the prayer for the issuance of TRO and Preliminary Injunction on June 18.

Indeed, petitioners do not have any vested right to the stall. The lease (and occupation) of a stall in a public market is not a right but a purely statutory privilege governed by laws and ordinances,” reads the resolution.

PFUMTA later on submitted before the same court a “motion for reconsideration” asserting their supposed right on the properties being demolished and “which needed to be protected to prevent grave and irreparable injuries” upon its members.

The court, again, denied the motion as it cited that another requisite for the issuance of the writ prayed for is the need to prevent irreparable injury.

“The damage that plaintiffs will suffer would be easily quantifiable. It would be easily subject to mathematical computation and, if proven that they invested in the construction of the public market and owned a portion of the building, that is easily compensable damages. This would not constitute irreparable injury,” the court stated.

After the court’s affirmative defenses, the defendants’ counsel, led by City Administrator Attorney Atlee Viray and his collaborating counsel, CIty Legal Officer-in-charge Atty. Cornelio Tallada Jr., filed on June 21 a “Motion to Dismiss” the instant case.

“Since the ancillary remedies of prayer for TRO and preliminary injunction were denied; it follows that the main petition for injunction should be likewise dismissed,” Viray claimed.

 The defense counsel highlighted that the petitioners have no absolute right to be protected since the parcel of land, where the old public market is physically situated, is owned, and as a matter of fact, registered in the name of the City of San Fernando, Pampanga.

Viray also reiterated that the plaintiffs have failed to show the existence of a matter of extreme urgency involving a constitutional issue.

“Hindi sila (petitioners) entitled sa injunction because what the lessor has is a privilege, not a right. It, being a privilege, can be withdrawn anytime. The city government can withdraw the privilege from any stall holder who violates the terms and conditions of the contract they entered into,” Viray explained.

Considering these premises, the RTC, presided by then-Judge Edgar Y. Chua, dismissed the instant case for failure to state a cause of action.

Moreover, the court denied the petitioners’ “Motion for the Production or Inspection of Documents or Things” for being moot and academic.

The court resolution was issued on September 16, 2021, and received by the City Government on September 29, 2021.

For his part, Santiago thanked Viray and Tallada for their hard work.

Santiago ascertained that the rehabilitation of the City Old Public Market will remain his mission to protect and promote the welfare of the stallholders, consumers, and the general public.

Viray underscored the dedication and strong political will of Santiago.

Ang Mayor [Edwin Santiago] lang ang may lakas ng loob na ipagawa ang market dahil lagi silang [previous officials] tine-threaten ng stall holders na hindi sila iboboto o kaya idedemanda pero si Mayor Santiago hindi natakot. Sabi nya sa akin na abogado nya, labanan natin yan para makita natin kung sinong tama. And yung position nya, ang city hall, ang gobyerno, ang dapat respetuhin nila at hindi ang kanilang self-interest,” Viray remarked.

Meanwhile, the City Engineering Office has already finished the demolition for the first phase of the Old Public Market project. The market vendors were given temporary relocations in Sto. Rosario as the construction of the first building commenced.

The LGU targets to complete the rehabilitation in the second quarter of 2022 and eventually reinvigorate the local economy with a new and redeveloped City Old Public Market.

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