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SC: Arlegui property case decision final

06/01/2010 [ ]

Any plans for the new Chief Executive to move in to the so-called Arlegui guest house across Malacañang maybe fraught with complications.
SC Court Administrator and spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said the high court had ordered the entry of judgment in connection with the sprawling Arlegui property as early as Dec. 16, 2008.
The Arlegui property was a residential house that was seized from its real owners during martial law by the cronies of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
Marquez said the high court “affirmed with modification” the Oct. 4, 2007 decision, and the records of the case were remanded to the Manila Regional Trial Court on March 18 last year, for the execution of the decision.
“The motion for reconsideration before the SC concerning the Arlegui house has been denied with finality and entry of judgment has been made,” he said in a text message to reporters, but declined to give details.
It remains unclear whether the government and the owner of the Arlegui property — Tarcila Laperal Mendoza, who is now in her 90s – have already forged a settlement, although sources said the court-ordered payments had already been settled.
Aside from ordering the government to vacate the place, the SC, in its October 2007 ruling, also directed it to pay Mendoza around P8 million in rental fees from 1975 up to present.
The said property is presently being occupied by the officers and staff of the Presidential Action Center and other agencies under the Office of the President. It also served as the presidential guest house during the terms of Presidents Corazon “Cory” Aquino and Fidel Ramos.
In a decision penned by Associate Justice Cancio Garcia, the SC First Division affirmed the Aug. 27, 2003 ruling of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 37, declaring Mendoza as the real owner of the subject property covered by Transfer Certificate Title (TCT) 118527.
Mendoza claimed that she had been in possession of the property until the first week of July 1975 when a group of armed men representing themselves to be members of the Presidential Security Group of then President Marcos forcibly entered her residence and ordered her to turn over to them the title to the property and compelled her and the members of her household to vacate the same.
She said out of fear for their lives, she handed her owner’s duplicate certificate copy of TCT 118527 and left the property.
Mendoza later found that TCT 118527 had already been canceled by virtue of a deed of sale in favor of the Republic allegedly executed by her and her deceased husband on July 15, 1975.
The SC modified the lower court’s ruling which directed the government to pay Mendoza more than P2 billion, including interests, representing the rental use of the Arlegui property.
Instead, it ordered the Office of the President to pay her the amount of P20,000 a month beginning July 1975 until it vacates the property and the possession is given back to her.
The SC noted the subject property had minimal rental value during martial law, given the very restrictive entry and exit conditions prevailing at the vicinity at that time and even after. Benjamin B. Pulta

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