THE legal battle on the ownership of the disputed posh condominium in Makati City has finally been resolved.
Makati Sheriff Rommel Ignacio on Wednesday handed the Court of Appeals (CA) decision to the building administration upholding the control and ownership of Filipino-led Optimax over Infinity Tower.
The majority owners of the Infinity Tower Condominium l led by Optimax International Corp. had previously taken over control of the management of the building.
In a 21-page resolution dated June 17, the CA 15th Division dismissed the suit filed by the Korean-led rival Archinet International Inc. as it upheld the earlier decision handed down by the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 66.
The lower court’s decision recognized Optimax, headed by Joaquin Rodriguez, Sr., as owner of Infinity Tower, also known as Somerset Serviced Residence Salcedo and Stamford Court.
The appellate court also struck down the complaints of Archinet, through its property manager Nicolo de los Angeles purportedly representing its chair Korean Seokwhan Hahn, Oliver Bonus, and Marvin Elton Mendoza for violating the rule on forum shopping.
De los Angeles had sought unhampered access for his clients to condominium units at the Infinity Tower Condominium in the guise of asserting proprietary rights but the same had been dismissed by the court.
CA Associate Justice Zenaida T. Galapate-Laguilles, who penned the decision, said Archinet’s forum shopping bid “degraded the administration of justice, congested our court dockets, and abused our judicial system.”
The decision was also signed by Associate Justices Mariflor Punzalan Castillo and Amy Lazaro-Javier.
The appellate court found that the Korean–led group engaged in forum shopping when they could not get a temporary restraining order to stop the Optimax group from taking over the property.
“What is crystal clear before us, as borne by the records, is that after failing to obtain an injunctive writ following the expiration of the TRO granted by the Makati RTC, Branch 66… Hahn (the Chairman and President of Archinet), at his own instance, also filed a petition against (Optimax through property manager Quadrillon Property Management Inc.) before the Mandaluyong City RTC for the protection of his rights against the effects of the Order (in favor of Optimax),” the CA said.
When the Mandaluyong RTC dismissed the suit, Hahn’s other company, Greenstone filed a petition before the CA assailing the Makati RTC order but was also dismissed.
Still bent on obtaining an injunction, Archinet filed another case before the CA questioning the same order but the court also struck it down.
The appellate also found Makati City RTC branch 138 to have violated the rule on the doctrine of judicial stability when it earlier issued a TRO in favor of Greenstone when the same case is already being heard by Makati City RTC branch 66, a co-equal court.
“Nonetheless, the public respondent (Makati RTC Branch 138) still opted to interfere with, nay, countermand, the order of a co-equal and coordinate court of concurrent jurisdiction, in blatant disregard of the doctrine of judicial stability, a well-established axiom in adjective law.
We therefore rule that the public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion when it took cognizance of Civil Case No. 13-879. A ruling that emanated from such abuse must be struck down. And so must it be,” the court said.
The CA also directed the Makati Sheriff “to implement, with police assistance, if necessary the Makati RTC order” that validated and recognized, including all actions, resolutions and contracts approved and entered into by the Optimax-led board.
The case stemmed from the case filed by Optimax after Greenstone illegally took over management of the building in 2012 despite a board resolution designating Qaudrillon as property manager.
The 30-story Infinity Tower is owned by Beccomax Property and Development Corp., which is a joint partnership between Optimax International Corp. Korean company Byucksan. Optimax owns a 60 percent share while Byucksan holds the remaining 40 percent.
Ascott bought 40 percent of the units for US$8 million and managed the units for ten years. The management of Ascott expired on June 12, 2012 and naturally the Optimax Group wanted a board meeting to determine who will be appointed to manage the units.