• CA ruling on Sunvar eviction case looms

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    The Court of Appeals (CA) is poised to rule on the government’s plea to execute a trial court’s decision ejecting Sunvar Realty Development Corp. (Sunvar) from the Mile Long property in Makati City.

    In a press conference last week, Solicitor General Jose Calida tagged Sunvar, owned by the Prieto-Rufino clan, as “squatters” occupying government lands.

    According to the records of the appellate court, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), representing the government and the National Power Corp. (NPC), filed on June 1 an Urgent Motion for Execution intended to enforce the decision of Branch 61 of the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Makati City.

    The trial court’s decision ordered Sunvar to vacate the properties and pay government back rentals amounting to P1.66 billion excluding interest.

    Sunvar filed its comment on the OSG’s motion on June 21, to which the OSG filed a reply dated July 13. With the submission of OSG’s and Sunvar’s positions, the CA’s 5th Division chaired by Justice Jose Reyes is now poised to rule on the matter.

    Calida had expressed fears that Sunvar may resort to delaying tactics to prevent the government from taking over the contested property.

    He opined, however, that even if Sunvar further appeals a potentially adverse CA resolution, the execution of the decision of the trial court should still be able to proceed, since court decisions on unlawful detainer or ejectment cases are immediately executory because the proceedings are summary or streamlined, with certain remedies normally available in regular court proceedings being prohibited.

    “Instead of abiding by the MeTC decision by vacating the property and paying the rent, Sunvar filed a prohibited pleading after another to stop the government from implementing the decision. Sunvar did not even file a supersedeas bond and deposit the accruing rentals every month as required by the Rules of Court to stay the execution [of ejectment order]pending appeal,” Calida said.

    The government and the NPC are the registered owners of several parcels of land located between Pasong Tamo and Vito Cruz Extension in Makati City, with a total area of 125,607 square meters and covered by four Transfer Certificates of Title.

    On December 26, 1997, the government and NPC leased the properties to the Technology Resource Center Foundation, Inc. (TRCFI) for 25 years beginning on January 1, 1978 and ending on December 31, 2002, renewable for another 25 years upon the mutual agreement of the parties.

    TRCFI eventually sub-leased to Sunvar all portions of the properties. During the period of its sublease, Sunvar built commercial structures on the properties.

    On June 3, 2002, the NPC notified the Philippine Development Alternative Foundation (PDAF) of its decision not to renew the contract of lease as NPC’s assets was set to be privatized.

    It also cited that the rent amount, stuck at P1.25 per square meter per year, was grossly disadvantageous to the government as the value of the said lands in 1997 was P125,000 per square meter.

    In February 22, 2008, the OSG sent demands to Sunvar to vacate the property under threat of legal action.

    Thus, when Sunvar refused to vacate the property, the government and NPC filed a complaint for unlawful detainer before the MeTC of Makati City.

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