Court of Appeals resolves Stradcom dispute

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THE Court of Appeals (CA) has resolved cases involving two opposing groups, which are both claiming control over Stradcom Corporation, the information technology service provider of the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

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In a decision penned by Associate Justice Ramon Cruz and concurred in by Associate Justices Romeo Barza and Victoria Isabel Paredes, the CA’s Special 5th Division granted a motion for partial reconsideration, including its supplement, filed by the Cezar Quiambao group.

Accordingly, the CA modified its decision promulgated on September 1, 2014.

“The July 19, 2012 and February 20, 2013 Omnibus Orders of the RTC [Regional Trial Court] of Quezon City, Branch 90 in Special Civil Action, insofar as they denied the Quiambao group’s motion to dismiss the interpleader case, are reversed and set aside. The action for interpleader… is ordered dismissed for being moot and academic,” it said.

Records showed that the interpleader case was filed by the Republic of the Philippines, through the LTO, because there was a quandary as to which between the Sumbilla group and the Quiambao group was the proper party representing Stradcom.

The CA found merit in the Quiambao group’s claim that the executive branch, specifically, the Office of the President, the Department of Transportation and Communications, the LTO and even Assistant Secretary Virginia Torres recognized Quiambao and the incumbent members of the board and officers of Stradcom as the ones in control and who
are operating the firm.

Thus, it said, “it is quite clear from these developments that the basis for the interpleader case, the confusion as to which between the two opposing groups the LTO should deal with, no longer exists.”

“There is no more justiciable controversy,” the CA pointed out.

With the dismissal of the interpleader case on the ground of mootness, the appellate court said the order of the RTC to deliver the funds in litigation to the court has no more basis.
Hence, the CA lifted the RTC’s order to deposit the same.

On the other hand, it denied a motion for reconsideration filed by the Sumbilla group.
In its July 21, 2015 decision but was released to the media just recently, the CA stated that the supervening events prove that the LTO is no longer perplexed.

“It is difficult to ignore the Republic’s recognition of the Quiambao group as the one operating and in control of Stradcom. By its continued dealing with Mr. Quiambao, the LTO recognizes the [group]as the one which could act on the agency’s requests and instructions regarding the implementation of the LTO IT [Information Technology] program,” it held.

The appellate court further ruled that the dismissal of the interpleader case is in order and that the confusion that drove the government “to file [the same]and which is the root of these petitions is gone.”

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