Plaza Rizal belongs to Naga, not CamSur
By Paul John Barrosa
NAGA CITY — Following final decision by the Supreme Court’s Special Third Division, City Councilor and former City Legal Officer Nelson Legacion, in a privilege speech during last Tuesday’s regular session of the Sangguniang Panlunsod, called on Camarines Sur Gov. L-Ray Villafuerte and other concerned
provincial officials “to immediately and peacefully turn over the possession, administration and supervision of Plaza Rizal to the City of Naga.”
At the same time, the city councilor urged City Mayor John Bongat to send a formal letter to the governor asking the provincial capitol to set a date on the formal turn over, without having to wait for the court’s order to be enforced by way of a writ of execution.
But the city mayor who is also a lawyer by profession wants a more diplomatic and amiable course to once and for all settle the problem. He said he plans to personally meet with the governor within the week to discuss the plaza’s smooth and orderly turn-over and other related matters.
The Supreme Court’s Third Division last August 25, this year but which notice was received by city hall only on September 24, denied with finality the motion for reconsideration of the court’s September 18, 2009 decision dismissing a petition for certiorari after it was decided that Plaza Rizal, which is situated in Naga should be under the administrative control and supervision of the city government.
The Supreme Court in its final resolution noted that the provincial government in its motion for reconsideration “merely reiterates the same arguments earlier raised and does not present any substantial reason not previously invoked or any matter not already considered and passed by the Court.”
Saying the long wait is finally over, Legacion reminded that there is an urgent call to make Plaza Rizal a real place for rest and recreation.
The start of the tug-of-war over the plaza’s control and supervision may be traced back to June 18, 1948 when Naga, then the provincial capital, became a city independent from Camarines Sur.
According to the city councilor, the situation deteriorated because the plaza had continuously been used by the provincial government for commercial purposes contrary to its nature as a public park. He stated: “When visitors came to Naga, they saw the filthy and disorderly appearance in Plaza Rizal resulting from various unauthorized and illegal activities being conducted therein at the behest of provincial officials but which were oftentimes attributed to the city officials.”
He narrated, thus:
On January 13, 1997, the city government filed a complaint for declaratory relief wherein it asserted its right to the plaza.
On March 10, 1999, the RTC decided in favor of the city as it concluded that it is the city which has the right of administrative control and management of the plaza.
Unhappy with the RTC decision, the provincial government went to the Court of Appeals which on June 28, 2004 decided in favor of the city government.
Again discontented with the defeat suffered, the provincial government went up to the Supreme Court by way of petition for review claiming grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Court of Appeals.
On September 18, 2009, the Supreme Court affirmed that the proper agent to administer and possess Plaza Rizal is the City of Naga.
Still finding the Supreme Court decision unacceptable, the province filed a motion for reconsideration which again fell flat on the face of the provincial capitol, hence the final resolution.