Court grants TRO motion to stop re-bidding of bus terminal project PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 12 November 2011 15:25

The Regional Trial Court has granted the motion for issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) filed by two construction companies seeking to  stop the Zamboanga City Government from re-bidding the Integrated Bus Terminal (IBT) project in Divisoria.

The re-bidding was scheduled yesterday, but because of the court order, the  controversial project will be shelved or back to a “status quo” as agreed upon by the
TRO petitioners and the respondent (city government).

In his two-page order, Regional Trial Court Branch 17 Judge Tibing A. Asaali  said the holding of a public bidding yesterday will cause irreparable damage and untold injury to the petitioners (RCDG Construction Corp. and R.U. Aquino Construction and Development Cop.)  since the bidding of the IBT project was unilaterally recalled and cancelled, “consequently the petitioners were apparently denied due process.”

In the same order, Judge Asaali ordered the respondents (City government through Mayor Celso Lobregat and its Bids and Award Committee)  to appear before his sala on November 21,  2011 at 2 show cause why a Writ of Preliminary Injunction should not be issued to permanently stop the re-bidding of the IBT project.

The two petitioners have filed with the court a special civil action asking for a certiorari, mandamus and permanent injunction with application for TRO or writ of preliminary injunction to prohibit the city government from “re-advertising, rebuilding and other acts in furtherance of the rebidding of the IBT Project.”

Asaali noted that the hearing scheduled on December 16, 2009, was regarding the propriety of the issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction against the city government to prohibit them from committing any acts which would prejudice RCDG and R.U. Aquino with respect to the IBT project.

“But instead of proceeding with the hearing, the parties just agreed to maintain the Status Quo. And on the part of the respondents, would not proceed with the re-advertising and rebidding of the projects. The petitioners on their part have agreed to dispense with or at least suspend the proceedings regarding the issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction since the parties have already agreed to maintain the Status Quo. As a result of the discussion the parties held on December 16, 2009 as manifested and noted by this Court that they have agreed on the maintenance of the status quo until the merits of the case have been decided. ,This was consequently embodied in the Order of this Honorable Court on December 19, 2009. And with maintenance of the status quo, further proceeding up to the pre-trial and stipulation of facts by the parties and their counsel geared towards the maintenance of the status quo,” Asaali said.

RCDG, a local contractor which was awarded the  contract for the construction of the IBT in Divisoria in 2009, had earlier filed a contempt of court charge against Dr. Mario Arriola, chairman of the city’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) , alleging that the latter violated the status quo  agreement on the IBT by ordering its rebidding, which was published in the July  31, 2011 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Philippine Government  Electronic Procurement System (PHILGEPS) website.  Both rebidding notices  were signed by Dr. Arriola.

At the same time, RCDG moved for the issuance by the court of a TRO or preliminary injunction to stop all rebidding activities  ordered by the BAC chairman for the construction of the IBT.

RCDG was joined in the motion by R.U. Aquino Construction and Development Corporation, which is in joint venture with RCDG for the project.

In documents filed in court, the Roque & Butuyan Law Office and Atty. Vic R. Solis, lawyers for the RCDG, cited a court order dated December 16, 2010 which recognized a status quo agreement with the lawyers for the city.

The contract for the construction of the integrated bus terminal was awarded to  RCDG in joint venture with R.U. Aquino Construction  Corporation on April 13, 2009. It was later cancelled by Mayor Lobregat, which led  to the contractors filing of a civil case with the RTC, questioning the  cancellation order of the mayor.

The court case has dragged the bus terminal project which is a flagship project of the Lobregat administration and similar viewed by many quarters as an important undertaking considering that almost all cities in Mindanao have modern and attractive bus terminals, except for Zamboanga City.