FIVE shipyard owners in Consolacion, Cebu have filed a petition for certiorari before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Mandaue City against the Consolacion Municipal Government after the latter issued business permits to them that are valid only for six months.
The shipowners are Philippine Rigid Construction Corp. (PRCC), Fortune Shipworks Inc., Nagasaka Shipyard Inc., PKS Shipping Co. Inc., and Uni-Orient Pearl Venture Inc.
On June 29, 2021, the Mandaue City RTC 83 received the petition against Consolacion Mayor Joannes Alegado and Judith Pepito of Consolacion Business Permit and Licensing Office. A certiorari is a legal action asking the court to review a government official’s decision.
The petition states that the petitioners have completed the requirements, including payment of taxes for the whole year required by the town based on its ordinance and the citizen’s charter, but they were surprised that they were only given up to June 30, 2021 to operate.
In the previous years, the business permits of the petitioners usually expire on Dec. 31. But now, the business permit was only until June 30 and it was up to the mayor to extend it, they said.
On March 18, 2021, the PRCC, Fortune Shipworks and Nagasaka Shipyard questioned through a letter the basis and the reason behind the business permit that is valid for only six months. They also asked for the Municipal Government’s guidance on what they should do to give them a full-year business permit.
PKS Shipping and Uni-Orient also wrote to Mayor Alegado’s office with the same intention last April 12.
Alegado, in an interview, asked if the petitioners have an existing lease agreement or tenurial instrument with the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR).
The petitioners state that they have been in the industry for six decades and the tenurial instrument was not included in the requirements to get a business permit in the previous years.
In his defense, Alegado said it does not mean that if the lease agreement was not required in the past years, it would not be required at present.
He said it was not stated in the basic requirements as it is considered as an additional requirement. Alegado said the town’s Business Permit Ordinance provides that the local government can request additional requirements if necessary.
He said that of the 11 shipyards in Barangay Tayud, only three have complied with the tenurial instrument. These shipyards were issued with a full-year business permit.
“It is very important because the tenurial (instrument) reflects the ownership of the land. We cannot give a business permit if you do not own the land (where) you are operating,” said Alegado.
On June 4, the petitioners submitted again their application to extend their business permit until December 31, 2021.
However, they have not received a reply from the local government within 13 days, even though the application for a business permit only lasts one day as stated in the town’s citizen’s charter.
As a result, Fortune Shipworks was forced to file a complaint with the Anti-Red Tape Authority last June 18.
On the same day, the companies received a letter from Alegado denying their application because their tenurial instrument with the DENR had expired.
In a similar letter, Alegado explained that if they still want to apply for a business permit only for the use of the dryland, they must submit a proof of ownership.
The petitioners complied with Alegado’s instructions, and they provided documents to prove that they are the owners of the land so their business operations would not cease.
The petitioners are worried that if their businesses would be closed, their 841 employees, regular and contractual workers, would lose their jobs. There will also be an absence of repair facilities for the maintenance of Philippine Navy ships.
Shipyards and dry ports in the area serve 70 percent of the ships traveling to the Visayas and Mindanao.
A summary hearing on the shipyards’ petition for certiorari took place at the RTC Branch 83 afternoon of July 1, presided over by Judge Allan Francisco Garciano.
Garciano issued a court order, deciding to let the shipyards continue their operations in the area while the petition for certiorari is not decided yet.
Alegado said they will still not issue business permits, but the petitioners can continue their business operations as a lot of workers would be affected.
“For next year that’s another story. We will try to see what’s the development with our project. If we are about to start, then most probably they should double their time in transferring to another location,” said Alegado.
Alegado explained that the local government wants to use the foreshore of the area to build its Seafront City Reclamation Project.
The proposed Seafront City is a 235.8-hectare reclamation project in consortium with a private entity, La Consolacion Seafront Development Corp. or La Consolacion. The Municipal Government of Consolacion. Last January, Alegado called a public consultation, revealing the project to the shipyard owners.
Alegado said he wants the town of Consolacion to develop through this project because it will also help a lot of people when it becomes a commercial area of the town, and it could ease the traffic going to northern Cebu.
The mayor said they have already endorsed the petitioners to other local government units. But if the shipyard owners wish to stay since they own the dryland, Alegado said they would open opportunities for the shipyards after the reclamation project is completed.