Battle of the bridge, redux

AL S. VITANGCOL 3RD ➤VitangcolA6



The Manila Times


ON July 30, 2022, I wrote about the brewing clash between Sen. Cynthia Villar and the new board of directors of the BF Resort Village Homeowners Association Inc. (BFRVHAI) in Las Piñas City. An election of board officers had been held on June 12, 2022, which resulted in the ouster of the Villar-backed directors. The controversy centered on a shortspan bridge (named Cavite Bridge), which was constructed by Senator Villar over a portion of the Zapote River, linking the end of Onelia Jose Street in the private subdivision to the Villar Sipag Farm in Bacoor, Cavite. Thus, a BFRV gate was opened to accommodate those passing from Las Piñas City going to Bacoor, Cavite and vice versa. The old board of directors tolerated this in exchange for the P10 million annual donation from Senator Villar. However, most of the BFRV homeowners resented this, citing “security” as their main concern. The new board, as part of their campaign promise, restricted access to the Cavite Bridge. Villar threatened the officers of the homeowners’ association with a lawsuit in case her demands were not met. I thought this was mere flexing on the part of the senator, but I was wrong — she did, in fact, file a civil case against the BFRVHAI on Sept. 19, 2022 before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Las Piñas. It was not surprising that she obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the BFRVHAI that very same day. The TRO is to expire on Oct. 9, 2022, unless the court extends it or makes it permanent. SCA 22-004 The lawsuit, docketed as Special Civil Action Case 22-004, is a petition for prohibition and mandamus with an application for TRO. The petitioners are Villar herself and two of her employees: Rommel de la Cruz and Virgilio Hernandez. The named respondents are BFRVHAI and its officers: Euan Rex Toralballa, Michael Roxas and lawyer Angelo Ted Diesmos. The City of Las Piñas was impleaded as an indispensable party in the case. The case filed was for the issuance of writs of prohibition and mandamus. In my opinion, these are inappropriate to the controversy at hand. First, prohibition “is an extraordinary remedy available to compel any tribunal, corporation, board, or person exercising judicial or ministerial functions to desist from further proceedings in an action or matter when the proceedings in such tribunal, corporation, board or person are without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion, and there is no appeal or any other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.” Villar and company have an adequate remedy available: request the city council of Las Piñas to amend Ordinance 715-06, Series of 2006. Second, mandamus is “a special civil action brought by an aggrieved party against a tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person unlawfully neglecting the performance of an act which the law specifically requires as a duty resulting from an office, trust or station.” Is there a law that requires the BFRVHAI to open up an access point between the private subdivision and the Cavite Bridge? Clearly, mandamus is not applicable in this case.