Court stops Cebu town from closing shipyards
CEBU CITY—Owners of five shipyards operating in Cebu province have sought the court’s intervention after officials of Consolacion town refused to give them permits to operate to pave the way for the local government’s plan to reclaim the area where the companies are operating.
The Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Mandaue City on Thursday issued a status quo order after officials of Consolacion town promised not to close the shipyards until the main case filed by shipyard owners against local officials was resolved.
“The municipality will not disturb the existing business operations of the petitioners until the main case is resolved,” said Judge Allan Francisco Garciano of Mandaue City RTC Branch 83.
Consolacion Mayor Joannes Alegado said that while he did not want to inconvenience the shipyard operators, it was about time that the foreshore area they were occupying be reclaimed and used by the town.
“I will not close the shipyards until Dec. 31,” Alegado said.
Lawyer Paolo Sucalit, Consolacion legal officer, clarified that the parties agreed to not disturb the shipyards until the main case was resolved.
“We give our word that we will not close the shipyards nor will we issue a cease-and-desist order against them until this case is over,” he said.
The municipal government has planned to use the foreshore area occupied by the shipyards as part of their proposed La Consolacion Seafront Development Project, a 238.5-hectare reclamation project in consortium with La Consolacion Seafront Development Corp.
Shipyard owners learned about the project only in January when the mayor’s mother, Vice Mayor Teresa Alegado, held a public scoping about the project in Barangay Tayud.
When they applied for business permits, the validity was only good for six months, apparently in deference to the scheduled project inauguration in August.
When their business permits expired on June 30, the shipyard operators filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition in court to stop the municipal government from closing their business.
Named respondents were Mayor Alegado and Judith Pepito of the town’s business permits and licensing office. The petitioners were Philippine Rigid Construction Corp., Fortune Shipworks Inc., Nagasaka Shipyard Inc., PKS Shipping Co. Inc. and Uni-Orient Pearl Ventures.
In their 54-page petition, the shipyard owners said their business permits were valid only until June 30 even if they had already complied with the requirements for a full-year permit and paid regulatory fees and taxes for a year.
In their petition, the shipyard companies said the officials’ refusal to issue a business permit valid for a year was a “blatant contravention” of the law.
The closure of the shipyards, its owners said, would result in the termination of at least 372 employees and would lead to the “crippling, if not destruction, of the local and national shipyard industry.” INQ
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