(Second of two parts)
It can be said that the legal problem facing Turkish Ambassador to the Philippines Hatice Pinar Isik over her desire to continue staying at the North Forbes Park mansion she presently occupies can be traced to the lease contract her embassy signed with the original owner of the property.
The property was in the name of the late Beatriz Sison Silverio, whose husband Ricardo Silverio Sr. was president of Delta Motors Corp., exclusive Philippine distributor of Toyota motor vehicles. Silverio would later enter politics, first as congressman then as mayor of San Rafael, Bulacan.
Beatriz Silverio died in 1987 without a will.
Normally, intestate proceedings whereby a court would determine who owns what would have settled the issue. But this is the Philippines, and families have been known to fight tooth and nail over the most insignificant items. What more if the property is valued in the hundreds of millions, and there are several families fighting for them?
This is what has happened in the case of the North Forbes Park legal battle.
The Silverio family history reads like a telenovela. Beatriz was originally married to the older brother of Ricardo Sr. When her first husband passed away, she married his younger brother.
By then, Beatriz was already a millionaire, while Ricardo Sr. was years away from creating a business empire centered on Toyota automobiles, but also including Komatsu heavy equipment and local airline Air Manila.
Beatriz had two sons from her first marriage—Edmundo and Edgardo (both surnamed Silverio)—while she and Ricardo Sr. would have three children of their own—son Ricardo, Jr., and daughters Nelia and Ligaya.
While still married to Beatriz, however, Ricardo Sr. never kept secret that he had another family by one Carmen Zuniga. Their three kids were Maria Rowena, Maria Roxanne, and Ricardo III.
While maintaining his two families, Ricardo Sr. purchased three high-end residential properties in Makati—one in Intsia Street in Forbes Park, another in Cambridge in the adjoining North Forbes Park (which would be rented out to the Turkish ambassador), and a third in Taurus Street, in nearby Bel Air.
Another property would later be purchased by Ricardo Sr. in Cruzada Street, Urdaneta Village.
Ricardo Sr’s family led by Ricardo ‘Ricky’ Jr. would go to court, claiming that their father had purchased the properties in the exclusive Makati villages using assets owned by their late mother.
The bad blood between father and son had been percolating for some time. In 2008, Ricky would accuse his father and his father’s bodyguards of mauling him inside the Urdaneta property. Ricardo Sr. refers to Ricky as his “misguided son.”
By this time, Ricardo Sr. had yet another family. His third wife would be a political partner, Bulacan Third District Rep. Lorna Silverio.
Of that Urdaneta property, a Court of Appeals decision last year agreed that a new title be issued, in place of the original which has been declared missing. This means that Ricky takes control of the property, which he says was part of his inheritance from his late mother.
Ricardo Sr.’s complicated personal life was clearly affecting his relations with his original family. Despite this, the Silverios still managed to do business, including their agreeing to rent out the property in North Forbes Park to the Turkish embassy for use as residence by their ambassador.
Neither the father or son contested the lease agreement, but it was when the property was sold that the long festering problem between the two again came to the fore.
Father and son had gone to court on a number of occasions, mostly to ask that one or the other be named administrator of the estate of the late Beatriz Silverio.
One decision had gone all the way to the Supreme Court, which named Ricardo Sr. as the administrator of his late wife’s estate. Ricardo Jr. and his siblings, however, now contend that the judge who issued the original decision—Judge Honorio Guanlao—had once appeared as counsel in the intestate proceedings. His neutrality was, therefore, put into question.
In a Court of Appeals decision dated March 8 of this year, the sale of the Cambridge (as well as Instia) properties of the Silverios was affirmed, meaning the property being leased by the Turkish embassy officially belonged to the new owner, Zee2 Resources Inc.
As the owner, Zee2 Resources had informed the Turkish ambassador that the president of the company wanted to occupy the Cambridge Circle mansion for his family’s use.
Under Philippine law, this is a valid reason to compel a tenant to leave a property, for as long as sufficient notice is given. This notice was done by Zee2 via the company’s lawyers, and the Turkish ambassador originally agreed to find another place where she could transfer.
Ambassador Isik’s change of heart has not been explained, but there is no indication that she will move out of the property any time soon.
She cannot cite the contract with the previous owner for her continued stay in the mansion, as the law dictates that she must now deal with the new, actual owner.
With the lawyers of Zee2 having given a final deadline for her to leave, a legal battle between the rich and the powerful Forbes Park crowd appears inevitable.