Court junks TRO vs Olongapo officials, mall

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OLONGAPO CITY: The Regional Trial Court (RTC) has denied a request for a temporary restraining order (TRO) by Sen. Richard Gordon and Councilor Edic Piano to stop SM Prime Holdings Inc. (SMPHI), the city mayor and members of the city council from constructing a mall and convention center complex in Barangay East Tapinac near Marikit Park here.

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RTC Branch 74 presiding Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde said issuance of a TRO on the project has been rendered moot and academic as facilities were already demolished. The issuance of a writ of injunction on the implementation of the project cannot be resolved without going to the issues in the main case, which is the Mandamus and Declaration of Nullity of a Lease Agreement.

The court said the petition to stop the demolition of the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (DRRMO), Leo’s Park and other existing structures at the former Olongapo Civic Center complex was raffled off to the court on June 2, 2016 when the structures were already demolished.

“There is no more urgency to prevent any injury to the petitioners, granting without admitting that there was irreparable injury caused to the petitioners,” the order said.

According to the Court, issuing an injunction in effect would dispose of the main case without the benefit of trial.

Gordon and Piano on May 23, 2016 sought the court’s intervention to stop the development of a 38,383 square meters of prime government-owned civic center area into an SM mall and convention center.

The area also used to house the city museum, the convention center, the city library, the Red Cross building, Olongapo Tennis Club, Gordon College and Marikit Park.

Gordon and Piano earlier filed a civil case against Mayor Rolen Paulino, members of the city council and SMPHI for entering into a deal that they claimed to be “grossly disadvantageous to the government.”

The two urged the court to declare the signed agreement null and void and issue a TRO to halt ongoing construction in the area.

Paulino, with the city council’s approval, had signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with SMPHI for the construction of a world-class shopping complex with a convention center and hotel in the area.

He said inclusion of a rainwater catch basin and construction of a solar-powered facility in the area will be a development that will make Olongapo one of the most environment-friendly cities in Central Luzon.

Paulino added that part of the agreement is the improvement of the adjacent Marikit Park, which will remain a city government property, and will continue to be used as venue for various activities and events.

He said the project offers tremendous employment opportunities–10,000 jobs–to local workers.

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