Supreme Court approves land swap deal
CEBU, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) en banc has ordered Felix Gochan & Sons Realty Corporation to pay Cebu City government P20.14 million for the latter’s property in Barangay Lahug.
This after the high court reversed and set aside the Commission on Audit (COA) resolutions.
“Thus, Gochan & Sons and the Cebu City may enter into a modified land swap in that the former must pay an amount corresponding to the difference in value between the private and public lands involved,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Jose Reyes, Jr.
SC’s decision stemmed from Felix Gochan & Sons’ petition for certiorari seeking to reverse and set aside the resolutions of the COA.
The associate justice and the corporation were referring to COA resolution dated 2015 which annulled the Deed of Exchange between the city and the corporation.
COA said the deed violates Republic Act 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act because the city-owned property in Barangay Lahug is “more valuable” than what the family-owned corporation had offered in exchange.
While Section 10 of RA 7279 provides for specific modes of land acquisition, the SC en banc ruled that it was never meant to be an exclusive list.
The corporation owns two parcels of land—a 4,955 square-meter lot in Barangay Lorega-San Miguel and the 3,682 square-meter lot in Barangay Guadalupe that is occupied by the Banawa Elementary School.
The corporation has proposed to swap its two lots with the city’s property in Barangay Lahug.
The Sangguniang Panlungsod of Cebu in 2005 issued a resolution approving the proposed land swap between the corporation and the city government and authorizing the city mayor to sign and execute a Deed of Exchange with Gochan & Sons.
But COA made an adverse opinion on the council’s move.
The COA, during its appraisal of the properties involved, found out that the value of Gochan & Sons properties were about 45 percent lower compared to the Lahug property. — KBQ (FREEMAN)