Bid to derail Tabuk market dev’t junked

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TABUK CITY, Kalinga – A local court junked the petition filed by some market vendors for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) to derail the implementation of the preliminary works leading towards the development of the Bulanao public market for lack of merit.

In a 4-page resolution, Judge Jerson E. Angod of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 25 stated that the petitioners in the aforesaid case failed to show by clear and convincing evidence that there is urgency to justify the issuance of a temporary relief.

Likewise, the court added that the petitioners failed to demonstrate by undisputed evidence that unless a TRO is issued, they will suffer grave and irreparable injury from the implementation of the market development project.

The court pointed out during the hearing called for the purpose that there is no ongoing demolition of stalls occupied by the petitioners and that the structures earlier removed through the efforts of the barangay were not structures or stalls occupied, possessed or owned by any of the petitioners but were made at the instance of the owners of the stalls or structures who are not among the petitioners.

According to the resolution, the Tabuk City government did not issue any notice of demolition to any of the petitioners and there is a relocation site identified for the qualified stall owners.

Moreover, the court noted there is no notice to proceed for XRC Mall Developer, Inc. to proceed with the construction of the project subject of the questioned contract of lease.

However, the court claimed that legitimate stall owners and vendors at the Bulanao public market were given the option to either be given a stall in the new market or take a lot at the relocation site.

“It would appear that petitioners are not stall owners with existing valid lease contracts with responded CLGU of Tabuk putting into serious doubt their claim of irreparable injury as a consequence should their application for a TRO is denied. A claim for damages resulting from an injury in law must be based on a valid enforceable contract that was breached. Furthermore, a preliminary evaluation of the allegations in the petition would tend to show that they involved factual matters best threshed out in an adversarial proceeding where both parties are given the opportunity to present its evidence on the facts in issue,” Judge Angog stressed.

For the foregoing ratiocination for failure of the petitioners to show clear and unmistakable right entitling them to the issuance of a TRO, the court asserted that the same must be denied.

Earlier, petitioners applied with the court for the issuance of a TRO against the city government in the implementation of the market development project alleging among others there is no relocation site provided by the city for the affected vendors and stall owners; SRC Mall Developer, Inc. has yet to pay the advance rental and the security deposit as stated in the contract of lease; no notice to proceed was given to the mall developer; no building permit has been issued to the project implementer; the failure of the respondents to comply with the requirements of the contract of lease will deprive them their source of livelihood as they have existing lease agreement with the city and demolishing their existing stalls violates their lease contract and the contract of lease subject of the case is reportedly illegal.

On the other hand, the city government, in opposing the issuance of the TRO, argued that the Bulanao public market where ambulant vendors sell their goods and vendors lease or contract stalls to sell their merchandise is located within the property owned by the city; prior to the consummation of the contract of lease for the development of the market, several consultations were conducted that started in 2019, the last of which was on May 13, 2022, where affected vendors and stall owners greed to voluntarily remove and demolish their stalls and structures; there is a relocation site provided by the local government and lots were identified and allotted to the affected vendors and stall owners; no demolition is ongoing at the public market by the city; it is the affected stall owners who voluntarily removed and demolished their structures; the petitioners are not stall owners and one of the petitioners has not updated her payment with barangay Bulanao Centro; the proposed lease contract for the development of the Bulanao public market has been duly published; XRC Mall Developer, Inc. has good business reputation having built 29 malls, 4 public markets, hotels and apartments and the development and construction of a public market is for the benefit of the city and the constituents of Tabuk.

The court was able to unearth the necessary facts during the conduct of the hearing for the said purpose there is an on-site clearing mobilization where only a portion of the land area containing the public market is being cleared initiated by the Bulanao Centro barangay on a voluntary basis among the affected stall owners; there is no ongoing demolition on the other portion of the market where the stalls occupied or owned by some of the petitioners are located; not a structure or a stall of the petitioners was demolished or removed; the other portions of the land area where the main public market is located and where ambulant vendors usually sell their goods is not subject of any order of demolition or clearing operation; a notice of award was issued to XRC Mall Developer, Inc. but no notice to proceed was issued; no notice of demolition was issued against the vendors and stall occupants and owners at the Bulanao public market; petitioners have no existing lease contract with the city; some of the petitioners are paying fees for business permit with the city; some petitioners are not stall owners per certification issued by Bulanao Centro barangay and some of the petitioners are listed as stall owners but they are delinquent.

Concerned sectors in the city lauded the decision of the court in denying the bid of the critics of the city government trying to derail the implementation of development projects that are beneficial to the public, saying that such anti-development stand is a deterrent to the desire of the people for the city’s growth and development to become one of the most progressive cities in the country in the future.