Court denies TRO on cargo handling mgt contract at Calapan City port

Published July 13, 2021, 12:42 PM

by Jerry Alcayde

CALAPAN CITY, Oriental Mindoro – The regional trial court denied yesterday, July 12, the motion for reconsideration for the issuance of a temporary restraining order that aims to stop the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) from implementing a new management contract cargo on handling operations at the said port.

In an eight-page order, Judge Tammy Ann C. Reyes-Mendillo of Regional Trial Court Branch 22 in Manila, said the motion filed by the petitioner, Calapan Labor Service Development Cooperative (CALSEDECO) has no merit and ruled that no court, except the Supreme Court, can issue any temporary restraining order or injunction against the government in undertaking national government infrastructure projects including the bidding or awarding of service contracts.

Port workers belonging to Calapan Labor Service Development Cooperative (CALSEDECO) ignored an order from Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) for them to abandon their posts in the operational area of the pier. (Photo from Deputy Speaker and Oriental Mindoro 1st District Rep. Salvador “Doy” Leachon’s Facebook page/MANILA BULLETIN)

“It appearing that the management contract for cargo handling operations in the Calapan port falls under service contracts related to functions and operations of PPA, a government-owned and controlled corporation, the application for issuance of a TRO in this case cannot be granted,” Judge Reyes-Mendillo said in her decision.

Court records show that CALSEDECO has been the cargo handling operator for the last 46 years but its right to operate in the said port under a 2006 management contract already expired in 2016.

From 2016 until June 30 this year, CALSEDECO conducted its operations under a temporary hold-over authority which PPA said is subject to its subsequent policy guidelines.

CALSEDECO has claimed that its clear and unmistakable right as incumbent operator of Calapan port must be protected by the issuance of TRO as it urged the court to order the PPA from implementing PPA A.O. No. 03-2016 or the Port Terminal Management Regulatory Framework which prescribes a new set of requirements for renewal of management contract such as public bidding which will eventually be awarded to a bidder with the offer of highest concession fee.

“The court finds that petitioner has not established a clear and legal right for the issuance of TRO to stop the public bidding of cargo handling services in the Calapan port and all subsequent processes to complete the final bid award,” the judge said.

On Monday morning, port workers belonging to CALSEDECO ignored an order from PPA for them to abandon their posts in the operational area of the pier.

Tension rose when the employees also prevented PCBSI employees and Manila-bound cargo trucks from entering the port.

CALSEDECO claimed that without notice to them and despite the pendency of the TRO resolution, PPA deployed its police force which were fully armed with high caliber firearms and in full battle gear.

Operation went back to normal in the afternoon after both parties received the court’s order at about 2:45 p.m.