Case on vs Cebu City mayor

Jerra Mae J. Librea

THREE dismissed members of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) Board of Directors will continue to pursue their case against Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella and the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) even after MCWD withdrew as one of the plaintiffs.

Last Dec. 18, dismissed MCWD board members Ralph Sevilla, Augustus Pe Jr. and Cecilia Adlawan filed a motion in court to declare Labella and other defendants in default after failing to file their answers in court.

Earlier, Sevilla, Pe and Adlawan filed a petition before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) to nullify the notice of termination issued by Labella and the designation of an interim board by the LWUA.

“MCWD Directors Ralph Sevilla, Augustus Pe and Cecilia Adlawan are actively pursuing the case they filed against Mayor Labella. Also, once defendants are declared in default, the complaint will be considered unopposed,” said lawyer Amando Virgil Ligutan, counsel for the three dismissed MCWD board members.

In their petition, the ex-MCWD board members said summonses were personally served to Labella and other defendants on Nov. 12 but the defendants have yet to file their response.

Section 3 of Rule 9 of the 1997 Rules of Court states that a defendant who fails to file an answer within the reglementary period may be declared in default.

City Attorney Rey Gealon said there was no default committed on the part of Labella and LWUA considering that RTC Branch 7, where the petition was originally filed, lost jurisdiction of the case after it was transferred to another court.

“This meant that RTC Branch 7 lost jurisdiction over the case when it transferred the case to RTC Branch 11 and now that it is back in RTC Branch 7, it has a different cause of action as the plaintiffs are now acting in their respective personal capacities,” Gealon said.

Gealon said RTC Branch 7 Judge James Stewart Himalalon noted MCWD already withdrew as plaintiff from the civil case rendering the motion filed as a “mere personal redress” of the remaining plaintiffs. (JJL)