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Eviction of tenants in Makati land sought

Friday, August 14, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES [ BusinessWorld Online ]

THE GOVERNMENT has haled to court its tussle with Rufino-owned Sunvar Realty Development Corp. in a bid to finally take over a prime property in Makati City.

In a 13-page complaint filed with the Makati Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 67 on July 23, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) is also seeking almost a billion pesos in damages "for the illegal and unauthorized use and occupation of the subject property."

Located between De La Rosa St. and Arnaiz Ave., the property houses Premier Cinema, Mile Long Arcade, Makati Creekside Building, The Gallery Building and Sunvar Plaza. It is part of the total 125,607-square meter land between Pasong Tamo Ext. and Vito Cruz Ext. that is jointly owned by the Privatization and Management Office under the Department of Finance and the National Power Corp.

On Dec. 26, 1977, the government leased the property to the Technology Resource Foundation, Inc. for 25 years ending Dec. 31, 2002. The contract was renewable for another 25 years "upon mutual agreement of the parties."

The contract also allows the foundation to sublease the whole or portions of the area.

Accordingly, Technology Resource Foundation subleased 12,843 square meters to Sunvar on Aug. 18, 1980. Several parcels were later on subleased in different dates, allowing Sunvar to construct commercial buildings as well as a parking area.

Before the contract ended on Dec. 31, 2002, the government had notified the foundation, reorganized as Philippine Development Alternatives Foundation (PDAF), that it was not renewing the lease contract so the property could be sold to raise much-needed funds, the state counsel said. PDAF had informed Sunvar of the plan. Sunvar, however, refused to vacate the area despite a final notice issued last Jan. 26.

"As they have been unlawfully withholding the subject property to plaintiffs, Sunvar... should be legally ejected... with the useful improvements therein... rightfully be immediately surrendered," the state counsel said.

It added the government suffered damages, and should be paid a total of close to P1 billion for the property’s illegal use from Jan. 1, 2003 to March 31, 2009, including monthly compensation of P10,364 from April 1, 2008 until the property is vacated.

In a motion to dismiss obtained by BusinessWorld, Sunvar said the court does not have jurisdiction for lack of cause, adding the government should instead direct its case against the foundation, which is a party to the sublease contract.

"Sunvar derives the right to be in possession of the subject property not from the lease agreement between the plaintiffs [and the foundation], but from its sublease agreements with the [foundation]," it said.

The Rufino family is a major stockholder of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. — Ira P. Pedrasa


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