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LLDA loses Round 1 in battle over Taguig lakeside property.

The Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) has lost the first round of its legal battle over a lakeside property along C-6 Road in Taguig City.

This, after the Court of Appeals (CA) ordered the LLDA to vacate the property pending the resolution of a case of alleged illegal occupancy of the subject real estate being used by a private solid waste management contractor.

In a six-page resolution dated August 29, 2018, and penned by Associate Justice Priscilla Baltazar-Padilla of the CA's Special Fourteenth Division, the appellate court, likewise, barred LLDA General Manager Jaime Medina and other officers, agents and staff 'from interfering, dispossessing and intruding' with IPM Construction and Development Corp.'s (IPM) right over the property until the final resolution of the case.

The case stemmed from a petition filed by IPM against the LLDA after the latter closed down and seized control of a 22-hectare property leased by the company for its garbage transfer station and materials recovery facility along C-6 Road, Barangay Calzada, Taguig City. The LLDA claimed that IPM-the authorized garbage contractor of Taguig City-is engaged in garbage dumping and illegal reclamation in the shores of Laguna de Bay, a claim that the company vehemently denies.

In a news statement, IPM welcomed the CA's injunction order, and the company maintained that it has not violated, and has faithfully complied with environmental laws, rules and regulations. It added that the operation of its materials recovery facility and transfer station is covered by required permits and licenses.

'The LLDA itself, in a cease and desist order [CDO] issued on June 13, 2018, did not make any findings as to alleged dumping of garbage in the C-6 area occupied by IPM. There is also no backfilling nor reclamation going on in IPM's property,' the company stated.

IPM insisted that the LLDA cannot use the CDO as a cover to land grab.

'This is what the LLDA did to IPM. Faced with an abusive show of force by the LLDA when it took over, dispossessed and effectively deprived IPM of the pursuit of its lawful operations, the company simply availed of a remedy available to it under the law. Where else will IPM seek refuge against this act of LLDA except to resort to the courts?' the company said.

The company said its CA petition puts the spotlight on whether the LLDA has the power and authority to seize and take over IPM's property.

'IPM questioned the LLDA's jurisdiction because IPM's leased property is titled under the Torrens System, which the LLDA cannot collaterally attack by simply claiming that it is part of the shoreland and forcibly ousting IPM thereto. Thus, the CA correctly ruled that pending resolution of conflicting claims, the parties should maintain the status quo-the last peaceable and uncontested status-in this case, IPM being in peaceful possession of the C-6 property,' the company added.

Following the court ruling, IPM said the LLDA-as a government agency-should be the first to show respect to the courts and faithfully comply with the CA's lawful order.

In a separate statement, Medina expressed dismay over the resolution.

He said that an injunction was issued to stop what he described as 'a legitimate environmental activity' and cited the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, which states that only the Supreme Court can issue a temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction against lawful actions of government agencies that enforce environmental laws or prevent violations thereof.

He maintained, nevertheless, that the CA resolution is just a temporary setback and that the LLDA will not waver in its ongoing campaign to protect and develop the vast shoreland area of Laguna de Bay.

The LLDA legal team and the Office of the Solicitor General are now preparing to file a motion for reconsideration of the CA resolution, he said.
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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Sep 6, 2018
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