Lapu-Lapu City Congresswoman Paz Radaza with her lawyers Yuri Benluan (left) and Kim Castro (right) in yesterday's presscon.

Lapu-Lapu City Congresswoman Paz Radaza with her lawyers Yuri Benluan (left) and Kim Castro (right) in yesterday’s presscon.

LAPU-LAPU CITY, Philippines- She has nothing in mind but service for the Oponganon.

Thus said Cong. Paz Radaza (Lapu-Lapu City, lone district) yesterday as she personally answered for the first time the issue regarding her occupancy of the Lapu-Lapu City congressional office at the city hall.

“Ato silang ibutang nga mas masayon para nila. Serbisyo man kaha ang atung gusto? Ato man kahang atimanon ang atong katawhan? So mao na siya ang atung gitan-aw (We will make it more easy for them. Isn’t it that we want service? Are we not here to attend to our people? So that is what I am after for), so hopefully with that, nakapasabot ko (I was able to make myself understood)” Radaza said in a press conference at the Basak Barangay Hall where she intends to also make a satellite congressional office.

Flanked by her lawyers, Yuri Benluan and Kim Castro, Radaza told Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan that she is even willing to pay rent to the city government if Chan so prefers so that she could just continue to occupy the congressional office at city hall.

The former Mayor turned congresswoman pointed out however that aside from her congressional office, there are offices belonging to other national government agencies that are occupying spaces at city hall which are not paying rent to the city government.

“As you can see probably, it is not only my office, there are a lot of national offices whose having their office there,” Radaza said further in a mix of English and Cebuano, adding, she intends to make the congressional office at city hall as her “central office” while the office in Basak and another one in the future will be “satellite offices.”

Her having an office space at city hall is now subject of a pending case in court though after three private individuals claiming to be Lapu-Lapu City taxpayers sued the Congresswoman and some city councilors over the issue of its occupancy.

Atty. Castro said they will abide by whatever decision the court will have but since it is not yet resolve, they well continue in putting up some tables and chairs at the city hall just outside the congressional office which was already padlocked after August 9.

After issuing a notice to vacate last July 1, Mayor Chan issued a second notice to vacate to Radaza and her congressional staff last August 9 and when the staff of Radaza reported back to work on August 13, the office was already locked and covered with plywood.

Castro said only a court order could compel them to vacate the office and not Chang’s notice which was based on a legal opinion from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

“Yes we are waiting for the court order, so amo ra gyung gihuwat unsay (we are just waiting if what is the) ruling sa (of the) court,” Castro said. Earlier, Castro said that the legal opinion by DILG undersecretary Marivel Sacendillo dated July 31, 2019 was just an opinion and could not go above an impending court ruling.

Teobanes Patalinghug, Humprey Elvira and Abcyl Bechayda represented by lawyer Elmergilio Ybalez petitioned to the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 70 that Radaza should vacate the congessional office citing that the city ordinance that covered it is invalid.

Judge Christine Muga-Abad gave both parties 15 days since August 8, 2019 to submit their position papers on the case before she will rule on whether it merits a mandatory injunction.

Atty.Ybalez has been found to be a staunch supporter of Mayor Chan like his three clients. Patalinghug is closely identified with city councilor Janvee dela Serna, an ally of Mayor Chan while Elvira who is a known tattoo artist is also known to be supportive of the Mayor. Bechayda is related to Ybalez, sources said.

Apart from Cong. Radaza also impleaded in the case are city councilors Ricardo Amores, Marcial Ycong, Eduardo Cuizon, Flaviano Hiyas, Laika Tampus and Gregorio Paquibot.

The Lapu-Lapu City council presided then by Ycong as former Vice Mayor has approved City Ordinance No. 14-200-2019 (An Ordinance Providing an Office Space at the Lapu-Lapu City Hall as District Office of the Member of the House of Representatives for the Lone Congressional District of Lapu-Lapu City), the very ordinance which the complainants wanted to be annulled by the court. /AAJ