ILIGAN City — “You cannot claim victory unless you have occupied the territory.”
This was what occurred to me when in an early November morning on a Monday. this year, the flag was raised at the grounds of the once proud National Steel Corp..
City officials were there led by Mayor Celso Regencia.
There was much drama and fanfare to signify the city’s “ownership” of NSC. And Regencia and Vice Mayor Jemar Vera Cruz themselves did the raising of the country’s flag.
Needless to say, the city’s employees were there in their formal attires, even some judges and lawyers. And concerned citizens (or “usisero”). It was victory, for the city.
They now own NSC, the offiicials articulated in so many words because of the company’s failure to pay real property taxes to the tune of over P4 billion.
City legal officer Voltaire Rovira, in his speech, was all praises for city treasurer Louella Maybituin, saying she “did not succumb to pressure” even in the face of her own personal concerns — meaning, the move was against all odds. A sweet victory indeed.
To underscore such, Regencia himself, in his speech, said it was a “suntok sa buwan.” And “at nasuntok ang buwan.” Well said. Then there was the signing of a document called “Certificate of Forfeiture” signed by the mayor and Maybituin with the necessary witnesses. To note, the city had made a notice of levy on the assets of NSC a year ago, in the month of October 2016. NSC was theirs for the taking. I mean, to act on, among others, to make some action plan regarding its re-operation. Once, the city was “only a bystander”; now, look at where it is now, a lead player it has become in this this continuing saga. Because it is now the owner.
A few days after the flag raising, another party came into the picture. Signifying that the city government was wrong in claiming NSC. And it came out with papers, too.
Maybe, not so dramatic as that of the city perhaps. But no less “impactful” towards many people nonetheless. For they came up with the “Notice to the Public,” complete with court decisions, and explanations on these decisions. A whole page notice for everyone in Mindanao and maybe some people in Cebu and Metro Manila.
Among others, this other party opposing the city’s bid, the NSC’s creditor banks represented by the liquidator, said that there is the Makati court decision dated April 4, 2017 declaring as “null and void the auction sale of NSC properties held on 19 October 2016.”
And they are citing several other court decisions in their favor.
The city though has court decisions in their favor too. And such other basis as the Local Government Code.
And one thing, why would they proceed in occupying the territory there if they do not have legal basis? .
A visit to the 200-hectare (or is it 400?) area of NSC also revealed something. The other party is also occupying the territory! For across the gate where the city people keep their watch, are also people of the other party. And inside their drawers in the desks where they keep watch, are papers, too — legal copies of their claims for anyone who cares to see them.
There’s a twist on a quote which says, “Do not judge a book by its cover, because you are not a judge.”
Boy, are we glad that we are not a judge on this matter…