• Airline ordered to pay SBMA P7.5M

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    THE Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the ruling of the Olongapo City regional trial court ordering an airline company to pay more than $160,000 or about P7.5 million in damages for failing to pay the rental for the use of facilities owned by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

    This developed after the appellate court denied for lack of merit the motion for reconsideration filed by Centennial Air, Inc. (CAIR) and its board of its earlier ruling sustaining the April 8, 2014 decision by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 72 of Olongapo City.

    In a resolution penned by Associate Justice Remedios Salazar-Fernando and concurred in by Associate Justices Priscilla Baltazar-Padilla and Socorro Inting of the 2nd Division, it opined that the issues raised by the appellants were all rehashed, and no substantial arguments were presented to warrant the reversal of their earlier ruling.

    “An analysis of the motion reveals that the arguments raised therein essentially involve issues that were already discussed and ruled upon by this Court. As such, the motion failed to present a new matter of substance that would warrant any modification, much less a reversal of the assailed decision,” the decision reads.

    The SBMA has entered into a lease agreement with Centennial for the lease of a building at Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA) at Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ) for a period of five years commencing on February 1, 1999 until January 31, 2004.

    Under the agreement, SBMA was authorized to seek judicial relief for damages incurred by reason of CAIR’s failure to pay as well as recovery of all amounts and penalties due under the lease contract including courts costs, attorney’s fees and expenses.

    However, CAIR became delinquent and was constantly remiss in its obligations, until the case against the air company and its officers led by Jennifer Enano-Bote reached the lower court.

    The RTC ordered CAIR to pay the total amount of US$163,341.89, plus legal interest to SBMA, as it instructed third-party defendant Jose Ch. Alvarez [now Palawan governor]to refund/reimburse to individual defendants Enano-Bote and several others.

    This prompted Alvarez’s camp to seek redress before the appellate court.

    In its Sept. 21, 2015 ruling but only released to the media recently, the tribunal sustained the RTC ruling.

    The CA held that Alvarez acted “in bad faith” for not updating CAIR’s incorporation papers when it leased a building in Subic, to the prejudice of the original incorporators of his troubled charter jet company, led by Enano-Bote.

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