SSS in legal battle with National Grid over P10-B property

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EMETERIO SD. PEREZ

THE Social Security System (SSS) is not about to give up its fight to protect the interest of 34 million member-workers and pensioners over a property that a Sy-owned company is “expropriating” for itself. It went to the Supreme Court to find justice that has eluded it at the lower courts.

In its petition before the high court, the SSS narrated the facts of the case and how it lost the war after the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasay City awarded the ownership of more than six hectares of property, which it said it owns, to a company that belongs to businessman Henry Sy Jr.

SSS, in its May 10 petition, said its 34 million member-workers and pensioners were bound to lose close to P10 billion after RTC Judge Gina M. Bibat-Palamos granted the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) a “writ of possession” to the property.

NGCP originally filed a “complaint for expropriation of a portion of the SSS property, consisting of 42,218 square meters of Lot 6 consisting of 129,548 square meters covered by TCT No. 34997.”


Expanded ‘expropriation’
The Sy-owned company amended its “expropriation complaint” on May 26. Instead of only 42,217 square meters, NGCP increased the area of the property it wanted “expropriated” for itself to 60,872 square meters.

In one of her rulings in favor of the Sy-led NGCP, Bibat-Palamos denied SSS’s “Motion for Reconsideration for lack of merit. “Accordingly,” she ruled, “let a writ of possession be issued placing the plaintiff (referring to NGCP) in possession of the property sought to be expropriated.”

Bibat-Palamos was not satisfied with those words. She went on to describe an “Urgent Manifestation” filed by SSS as “a mere scrap of paper,” adding that “no action shall be taken by the court.” She also did not give credence to a resolution passed by the Social Security Commission informing her of the commission’s approval of “the construction of the SSS Corporate Center of the South at the SSS-owned 7.4995-hectare Financial Center Area located on Diokno Avenue, Pasay City.”

The commission approves the policies that the SSS, in turn, implements.

Govt’s exclusive domain?
With a protracted legal battle in the offing, the high court is being asked whether or not “expropriation” is an exclusive domain of the government.

With the “expropriation” proceedings in question, the SSS opposed NGCP’s motion to deposit a provisional payment with court. It also questioned the “propriety of NGCP’s exercise of its right to expropriate public or government property.” NGCP is a private corporation.

Finding no merit with SSS’s opposition, Bibat-Palamos directed the NGCP to deposit P1,460,928,000 with the court, an amount that the company suggested in the first place.

SSS had objected to the issuance of a writ of possession to the NGCP. Bibat-Palamos ignored it, and the SSS lost again.

Despite its vigorous opposition, the SSS said it received a court order granting the NGCP a writ of possession on March 15.

High court’s turf
Will SSS obtain a favorable ruling from the high court? No one knows the answer.

The amount of more than P1.4 billion deposited in the RTC by the NGCP is intended to answer for the cost of the property owned by SSS. A victory by the NGCP means SSS’s 34 million member-workers and pensioners stand to lose about P10 billion based on the acquisition cost of the property.

In its petition, SSS cited as respondents Bibat-Palamos and NGCP.

Here is a long legal battle that began in the Municipal Trial Court of Calatagan and the Regional Trial Court of Batangas.

In the case that reached the Supreme Court, Hacienda Bigaa had sought to evict Epifanio Chavez from a portion of a property that the property owners claimed belonged to them.

Epifanio did not live long enough to see justice in his favor. He died during while the case was pending and was replaced by Santiago V. Chavez.

Court filings identified Hacienda Bigaa as “the successor-in-interest of Ayala y Cia, Hacienda Calatagan, Alfonso Zobel and Enrique Zobel, the original owners of TCT No. 722, otherwise known as Hacienda Calatagan. Due Diligencer will take up the SSS petition with the Supreme Court as well as Hacienda Bigaa on Friday.

esdperez@gmail.com

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