THE problem with the Ortigas clan took a different turn when the daughters of a well-known heir said the siblings of their father have treated them badly and have transferred and cremated his body without their knowledge.
Michelle and Francesa Litton-Ortigas, daughters of Jose Ortigas and Edwina Litton, said they have been treated as outsiders by the Ortigas clan, a problem which dates back to decades before their father died in a car crash in 1977.
In a statement, Michelle recalled that in February 2002, without informing her and her sister, the Ortigas family removed the remains of their father from the family mausoleum in La Loma Cemetery in Caloocan City and had them cremated.
The ashes were then interred in Mount Carmel in New Manila.
The two said for several years, they did not know where their father was buried despite several inquiries.
It was only after their mother confronted Francisco “Paqui” Ortigas 3rd at a party in November 2007 that the remains were unexpectedly sent to them on December 29, 2007.
They said this is only one of the many incidents where they were excluded from important matters by the Ortigas family.
“We had every right to be informed that our father’s body was being removed from the mausoleum and cremated. What if we didn’t want him to be cremated? What if we wanted to be present for the exhumation? What if we wanted him buried in a different place? As the daughters of Jose Ortigas, these should have been our decisions to make,” Michelle said.
She added that “it took me three years to find out where my father was buried. Those people cremated him and put him in Mount Carmel without telling my sister, my mother and me. We found out accidentally. This is my father, not an object to abscond and hide from me. I will never forgive them for taking away my father, even in death.”
The two sisters are fighting for their rights to the inheritance left by their grandmother, Remedios Ortigas, and are questioning in court the transfer of 40 percent stake of OCLP Holdings Inc. (OHI), the holding company of the Ortigas family in which they are stakeholders, to SM Prime.
Jose and Edwina Ortigas divorced in 1975 while they were living in New York. Jose, Michelle and Francesca returned to the Philippines and lived in Jose’s parents’ home in Greenhills in what is now San Juan City.
After Jose died, the two girls lived with their mother.
In June 1977, their grandfather Francisco Ortigas Jr. asked a court to appoint Philippine Banking Corp. as regular administrator and guardian ad litem of the estates of then-minors Michelle and Francesca Ortigas, due from the estate of Jose Ortigas.
A decade after the estate was closed, Edwina Litton filed a case with the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 61 against several defendants including Philippine Banking Corp. and two of its officers for fraudulently concealing the existence of time deposit accounts representing proceeds of insurance policies in favor of Michelle and Francesca Ortigas.
She also filed another case against Francisco Ortigas Jr., Ortigas & Company Limited Partnership and Fernando Ortigas to recover pieces of property in Greenhills Subdivision that had been diverted from the estate of her husband.
She said these assets were transferred, without her knowledge or consent, to Fernando Ortigas by substituting new agreements covering them between Ortigas & Company Limited Partnership and Fernando Ortigas.
Litton reached a compromise agreement with Francisco Ortigas Jr for P10 million in 1990 for the pieces of property, which were later sold by Fernando Ortigas and OCLP for about P30 million a few months later.