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2 RTC judges inhibit from ‘eSalvar’ case

NAGA CITY--- The special civil case seeking to declare the “eSalvar” ordinance as unconstitutional has suffered another delay after two judges of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in the city inhibited themselves from hearing the case.

To recall, eight private individuals have filed on Oct. 5 before the RTC a special civil case seeking to declare as unconstitutional the Naga City government’s “eSalvar” ordinance for violation of the due process and equal protection clauses, including the rights to liberty, privacy, freedom of movement as guaranteed by the 1987 Constitution.

The special civil case for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court with prayer for temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or preliminary injunction over the implementation of the “eSalvar” ordinance, was filed by petitioners: lawyers Agapito B. Rosales and Alex A. Arejola; Edgardo M. Castro, a retired government employee; Edizza Lynn D. Quides, Dianne M. Durante, Roy Angelo R. Belleza, Francis Patray P. Bolaños, and Paulo Gabriel D. Jamer, all law students.

They are represented by their counsel, Atty. Luis Ruben M. General of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), Bikol Chapter.

Cited as respondent in the case is the local government unit (LGU) of Naga City represented by Mayor Nelson S. Legacion and Vice-Mayor Cecilia B. Veluz-De Asis.

The case was initially raffled on Oct. 8 to the sala of Judge Laurencio Puto of RTC Branch 62. During the scheduled hearing of the case on Oct. 9, Puto inhibited himself from the case citing as reason that he already registered with the “eSalvar” application.

When the case was re-raffled on Monday, Oct. 12, it landed at the sala of RTC Branch 19 Judge Crescencio Cortes,, Jr.

On Wednesday, Oct. 14, during the hearing of the case, Cortes, also inhibited himself for personal reason that might affect his judgment of the case. As a result, the case will be re-raffled for the third time within the week.

As this developed, the city government has announced in its Facebook page on Tuesday, Oct. 13, that the “eSavar full implementation has been moved to November 1 following the request of the MNCCI (Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry) to give business owners preferential time to comply with the requirements of the ordinance. However, estabishments which are already compliant at their own discretion may opt to continue or start making use of the system even prior to November 1.”

Originally, the full implementation of the “eSalvar” ordinance is scheduled on Oct. 18.

As of Oct. 6, 2020, some 422,115 individuals have already registered with “eSalvar,” according to Allen Reondanga, chief of the Naga City Events, Protocol and Public Information Office. Out of this number, some 183,000 registrants are residents of Naga City.

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