Makati RTC orders SunVar to vacate Mile Long property

MANILA � The Makati City Regional Trial Court on Tuesday ordered the Sunvar Realty Development Corporation, a real estate firm owned by the Rufino and Prieto families to vacate the 2.9-hectare Mile Long property in Makati City, Solicitor General Jose C. Calida said on Tuesday

Calida said the Court of Appeals Resolution dated Aug. 14, 2017 remanded the case back to Makati RTC Branch 141 and directed the sheriff to execute the June 10, 2015 decision of Makati MeTC Branch 61, which ordered Sunvar to vacate the Mile Long property.

Earlier on Tuesday, Makati RTC Branch 141 of Judge Maryann Corpus-Manalac issued a Notice to Vacate, implementing the CA Resolution dated August 14, 2017, ordering to surrender possession of the property within three days from receipt.

The notice covered not only Sunvar Realty but also other tenants in the property.

"You are hereby given a period of three days from receipt thereof to surrender the possession of the above-described property with all the improvements existing thereon or vacate the premises within such given time, after which the undersigned will place the petitioner in actual and physical possession thereof to duly satisfy the Writ of Execution," read the order.

Calida, along with the Branch Sheriff Robert Bautista, went Tuesday to the Mile Long property serving the notice to Sunvar Realty and all other tenants.

Mile Long property was leased by government to Sunvar on Feb. 28, 1982. The agreement expired on Dec. 31, 2002, but Sunvar continued to occupy the property despite the expiration of the lease.

Calida said that since 2003, or for the last 14 years and seven months, Sunvar has been squatting, illegally using and occupying the Mile Long property and despite notices, continued to remain in possession and collect millions of rentals from tenants.

"In truth, you guys are like the Kadamay squatters. You have been depriving the government of money that could have been used to fund projects for the poor," Calida said.

In 2009, the government filed a complaint for Unlawful Detainer against Sunvar Realty before the Metropolitan Trial Court for its illegal and unauthorized use and occupation of the Mile Long property.

According to Calida, an ejectment case is summary in nature as it intends to provide an expeditious means of protecting right to possession.

"From the get-go, Sunvar never questioned the factual issues of the case. They just delayed everything. They filed baseless motions reaching up to the Supreme Court. That's why it took almost six years before it was decided by the Metropolitan Trial Court, Calida opined.

"Instead of abiding by the decision by vacating the property and paying the rent, Sunvar filed a prohibited pleading after another to stop the government from implementing the decision. Sunvar did not even file a supersedeas bond and deposit the accruing rentals every month as required by the Rules of Court to stay the execution pending appeal," Calida said.

Earlier, the CA has affirmed its ruling issued last January which gave the government an upperhand to regain possession of over 2.9 hectare Mile Long property in Makati City from Sunvar Realty..

In a six-page decision penned by Associate Justice Jose Reyes, Jr., the CA's Former Fifth Division denied the motion for partial reconsideration filed by Sunvar seeking the reversal of its Jan. 26, 2017 decision which dismissed the petition for injunction it filed before the Regional Trial Court of Makati City Branch 59 for the latter's lack of jurisdiction.

"In this case, we adhere to our earlier finding that the RTC of Makati City, Branch 59 has no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the petition for injunction to enjoin the implementation and execution of the decision of the MeTC (Metropolitan Trial Court) of Makati City, Branch 61,"

On June 10, 2015, the MeTC Makati City Branch 61 granted the complaint for ejectment filed by the government against Sunvar and ordered the latter to vacate the property located between De La Rosa and Arnaiz Streets and parallel to Amorsolo Street in Legazpi Village.

The MeTC also directed Sunvar to pay the government back rentals as of May 2015 amounting to PHP478.2 million with monthly rental of PHP3.2 million beginning June 2015 until it vacates the premises.

After a motion to consolidate was granted, Makati RTC Branch 59 took cognizance of both cases.

Subsequently, Makati Branch 59 issued a joint decision on May 7, 2016, dismissing the petition for injunction and disposed of Civil Case 15-958 by ruling to set aside the June 10, 2015 decision and to refer the said case to arbitration pursuant to the agreement of the parties as embodied in their contract.

In upholding its January 2017 decision, the CA insisted that Makati RTC Branch 59 has no jurisdiction over the two cases.

It noted that Sunvar violated the Rules of Summary Procedure which provides for the remedy of appeal to the appropriate RTC.

In its complaint about ejectment, the government and the National Power Corporation accused Sunvar of refusing to vacate the subject property despite the lapse of the ultimatum given to the latter.

The said property is at present being leased out by Sunvar to the operators of Premier Cinema, Mile Long Arcade, Makati Creekside Building, The Gallery Building, and Sunvar Plaza.

Other portions of the property, however, remain as open spaces, profitably utilized as a parking area for customers and guests.

Source: Philippine News Agency