• QC padlocks Manila Seedling Bank stalls

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    The Quezon City government has closed all commercial stalls in the Manila Seedling Bank compound on Quezon Avenue on Monday, saying they violated the city’s Revenue Code and the National Building Code.

    Quezon City Hall said as early as Friday, the city’s business permits and licensing office served 82 closure notices to the stall owners following their failure to secure the necessary municipal and building permits.

    Earlier notices were served last March to the tenants who belong to the Manila Seedling Bank Foundation.

    City administrator Victor Endriga said that in August 2012, during the signing of the deed of undertaking between and Manila Seedling Bank tenants, they agreed to leave the compound during the first quarter of the year.

    The tenants were to dismantle their stalls at the end of June.

    Despite the notices and repeated warnings, the tenants refuse to leave, Endriga said.

    “We have already given them one year and four months.  Yet, up to now, they are still   unable to comply,” he said.

    Leonardo Legeralde, president and general manager of the Seedling Bank, said the city government plans to integrate the seven-hectare lot into the Quezon City Central Business District, but is owned by the National Housing Authority (NHA).

    The city treasurer’s office auctioned the foundation’s property on July 7, 2011, for failure to pay real property taxes from 2001 to 2011 amounting to P57.208 million.

    But the NHA said it is exempted from paying the property tax under Republic Act 7279 and in light of rulings by the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Land Registration Authority.

    The housing agency said the city government issued notices of assessment and delinquency, sold the improvements at a public action and consolidated its ownership over the improvements made by foundation and the tenants.

    “In each of the actions taken by the QC government, NHA wrote several letters (dated June 24, 2011, March 5, 2012, June 4, 2012, and Aug. 13, 2012) asserting and maintaining that it is not bound to pay real property tax on the land and that, if at all, it is MSBF that should be paying the taxes on the improvements thereon. Indeed, NHA considers that it is only a nominal party to the actions taken by the QC government, and does not consider its ownership of the lot to have been adversely affected,” the NHA said.

    Endriga said the foundation’s tax liability was upheld by the Supreme Court two years ago.

    In 2009, Judge Bayani Vargas of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 219 declared null and void the first auction of the MSBFI property which was carried out in December 2005.

    The foundation filed an appeal that went all the way to the Supreme Court which ruled in the city government’s favor in 2010.

    The high court’s decision became final and executory on Feb. 21, 2011, and a second auction was conducted in July that same year.

    But Legeralde said the MSBF has rights to the property given by the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos through Presidential Proclamation No. 1670 which created the foundation.

    The Quezon City government has offered a portion of the Quezon Memorial Circle as an alternative area for the commercial plant traders affected by the city’s takeover of the Manila Seedling Bank.

    Last September 11, Endriga ordered the management of the foundation to comply with provisions of the National Building Code after it was found out that the building occupied by the foundation has not been issued a building permit and a certificate of occupancy since its construction in 1977.

    The first notice of violation was served by the city’s department of building official on June 17.

    “Aside from operating without the necessary mayor’s and building permits, Manila Seedling Bank Foundation, Inc., no longer have any legal personality with the Securities and Exchange Commission,” said Endriga.

    He said based on SEC records, the foundation’s certificate of registration was revoked on February 21, 2002 for non-compliance of reportorial requirements, in particular, the financial statements from 1996 to 2003.

    JING VILLAMENTE

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