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Mandaue legal office: Nullify sale of 3.5-hectare land to ECODEMCOR

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The Mandaue City Legal Office recommended the nullification of the sale of a 35,821 hectare land between the City of Mandaue and E.C. Ouano Development and Management Corporation (ECODEMCOR) during the term of former mayor Jason Cortes.

The sale of the city-owned property to ECODEMCOR in 2015 for P50 per square meter or a total amount of P1,791,050 was “highly disadvantageous” and “caused economic prejudice to the city,” its 16-page report said.

The October 10 report was signed by city legal officer Omar Redula, assistant city legal officer Eliseo Ceniza Jr., city attorney August Malate, city attorney James Sayson; and assistant lawyers Hyacinth Tan, Mc Alaine Osabel, Karl Rosolada, Christian Fernandez, and Rheswi Colina.

“As far as the City is concerned, it is not estopped from questioning the validity of the Deed of Sale and Deed of Donation with ECODEMCOR especially in this case that it is grounded on public policy and existence of irregularities,” it said.

“The City could validly move for the NULLIFICATION of the contracts and demand for the RESTORATION or RETURN of the object of the contract. It does not matter whether the City already accepted the consideration of the sale of benefits thereof.”

The legal office said the purchase price of the lot, based from the City Assessor’s Office sales data between 2011 and 2015, should be valuated at P4,580 per square meter, far from the P50 per square meter purchase made by ECODEMCOR.

Citing Article 1409 of the New Civil Code, the report also stated that the contract should be declared null and void ab initio for being grossly disadvantageous to the government.

“The Office finds that the sale and the facts leading to its sale to ECODEMCOR of the 35,821 sqm. Lot is void as the cause, object and purpose is against public policy for failure to follow protocol in accordance with established systems and procedures of concerned government agencies, and as mandated by law,” it said.

“Parenthetically, the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that contract may be held invalid for being contrary to public policy as it violates required regulations and procedure.”

The Office also concluded that the Promise to Sell entered into by the city with ECODEMCOR in 2001 was “defective,” “not legally binding,” and “not demandable” since then mayor Thadeo Ouano had no authority from the Sangguniang Panglungsod to enter into the Promise to Sell with ECODEMCOR.

Cortes, now Cebu’s sixth district representative, is facing a plunder complaint Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Visayas for approving the sale of a 3.5-hecatre land for a measly P50 per square meter.