President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said that the government would sell the Mile Long commercial strip at the Makati financial district after Sunvar Realty Development Corp. said it would comply with the Makati court’s ruling to vacate the property.
“Yang Sunvar na ‘yan, I’m selling it. Bidding ‘yan. If you want that piece of property, I’m putting that on notice,” the President said in his speech during the 19th anniversary of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption at Malacañang.
Duterte said that he will be selling the property off so he “can build more houses for the soldiers,” since the militant group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahirap squatted at the government property.
As this developed, the Sunvar Realty Development Corporation said that it would abide by the order of the Makati City Regional Trial Court to vacate the 2.9-hectare “Mile Long” properties owned by the government, which has been in its possession for 35 years already.
Sunvar made the announcement a day after the Office of the Solicitor General served them legal notice issued by the Makati City Regional Trial Court to vacate the property within three days.
Sunvar’s lawyer Alma Mallonga, confirmed that it was served with a “notice to vacate” within three days on Tuesday by the Makati City RTC, Branch 141, pursuant to a Resolution promulgated by the Court of Appeals on August 14 directing, among others, the trial court to enforce the 2015 Decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Makati Branch 61 ordering Sunvar to vacate Mile Long and pay back rentals amounting P1.6 billion exclusive of its legal interest.
The CA resolution directed the Sheriff of Makati RTC Branch 141 under Judge Mary Ann Manalac to enforce the eviction order.
Earlier, Solicitor General Jose Calida filed an urgent motion for execution before the CA after Sunvar failed to get a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court.
“While Sunvar has appealed the MeTC Decision, it is committed to abiding by the legal process. In accordance with that commitment, Sunvar will comply and vacate Mile Long,” the statement stated.
Sunvar recalled that some 35 years ago, it leased the undeveloped land of the government upon the understanding, that the lease period would expire in 2027.
It noted that it paid P16.8 million as advance rentals, and expended millions more to build roads, buildings, and infrastructure to develop the property now.
“Relying on the same contract and understanding, small business owners and taxpayers purchased condominium units in Mile Long that are now the source of their livelihood,” Sunvar said.
“It has pursued legal remedies to resist ejectment firmly believing there is a binding contractual commitment on the part of the government to honor a lease that is set to expire only in 2027. Sunvar understands that the government has taken an opposite view. Sunvar continues to have faith in the law and legal process,” the statemen said.
Last month, the CA affirmed its ruling issued last January which gave the government the upperhand in its bid to regain possession of over 2.9 hectare “Mile Long” properties in Makati City from Sunvar Realty Development Corporation.
In its decision, the CA’s Former Fifth Division denied the motion for partial reconsideration filed by Sunvar seeking the reversal of its January 26, 2017 decision which dismissed its petition for injunction filed before the Regional Trial Court of Makati City Branch 59 for the latter’s lack of jurisdiction.
“In this case, we adhere to our earlier finding that the RTC of Makati City, Branch 59 has no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the petition for injunction to enjoin the implementation and execution of the decision of the MeTC (Metropolitan Trial Court) of Makati City, Branch 61.”
On June 10, 2015, the MeTC Makati City Brach 61 granted the complaint for ejectment filed by the government against Sunvar and ordered the latter to vacate the 2.9-hectare property located between De La Rosa and Arnaiz Streets and parallel to Amorsolo Street in Legazpi Village.
The MeTC also directed Sunvar to pay the government back rentals as of May 2015 amounting to P478.2 million with monthly rental of P3.2 million beginning June 2015 until it vacates the premises.
Sunvar, however, filed a petition for injunction before the Makati RTC Branch 59 which immediately jurisdiction over the case despite government’s opposition.
The government elevated the issue before the CA after the Makati RTC denied its petition seeking the dismissal of the petition for injunction filed by Sunvar.
The government insisted that the Makati RTC should have dismissed Sunvar’s petition on the ground of forum shopping.
In upholding its January 2017 decision, the CA insisted that Makati RTC Branch 59 has no jurisdiction over the two cases.
It noted that Sunvar violated the Rules on Summary Procedure which provides for the remedy of appeal to the appropriate RTC.
It held that Makati RTC Branch 141 where the appeal of the main case was originally filed before it was consolidated with the case before Makati RTC Branch 59 should be the one to hear and decide the issue on its merits.
In its complaint for ejectment, the government and the National Power Corporation accused Sunvar of refusing to vacate the subject property despite the lapse of the ultimatum given to the latter.
The said property is at present being leased out by Sunvar to the operators of Premier Cinema, Mile Long Arcade, Makati Creekside Building, The Gallery Building, and Sunvar Plaza.
Other portions of the subject property, however, remain as open spaces, profitably utilized as parking area for customers and guests.
Based on the complaint, the government and Napocor co-owned the subject property on an 80-20 percent sharing.
On December 26, 1977, plaintiffs leased the property to the Technology Resource Center Foundation Inc. (TRCFI) for a period of 25 years, beginning January 1, 1978 until December 31, 2002, renewable for another 25 years upon mutual agreement of the parties.
Over the years, the TRFCI subsequently leased a portion of the property located between De la Rosa St. and Arnaiz Ave (formerly Pasay Road) to Sunvar Realty under a sublease agreement.
In all the agreements between TRFCI and Sunvar the latter agreed to return or surrender the subleased land, without any delay whatsoever upon the termination or expiration of the sublease contract or any renewal or extension when the agreements expired on December 31, 2002.
During the period of its sublease, Sunvar put up commercial buildings and establishments and introduced several improvements on the property.
Following a reorganization of the government, TRCFI was dissolved and was replaced by the Philippine Development Alternatives Foundation (PDAF), which assumed all the functions of TRCFI.
On June 3, 2002, Napocor notified PDAF of its decision not to renew the contract of lease.
For its part, the government informed PDAF through a memorandum issued on June 13, 2002 of its decision not to renew the lease contract on the ground that both of them had earlier entered into an agreement to shorten PDAF’s corporate life and cause the transfer of its assets to the government for the purpose of selling the same to raise much-needed funds.
Subsequently, the government and Napocor transferred the subject property to PMO for disposition.
On February 22, 2008, the government advised Sunvar to completely vacate the subject property within 30 days or it will take legal action against it before the court.
Sunvar, however, refused to vacate, and continued to remain on the subject property.
On February 3, 2009, respondent Sunvar received a final notice to vacate within 15 days but when the period arrived it again refused to vacate the property and continue to occupy it.
On July 23, 2009, petitioners filed the complaint for unlawful detainer with the Makati MeTC praying that Sunvar be ordered to vacate the subject property and to pay damages for the illegal use and lost income owing to them.