Sunvar to obey court order to vacate Mile Long property

MANILA � Real estate firm Sunvar Realty Development Corporation, owned by the Rufino and Prieto families, will comply with the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) order to vacate the 2.9-hectare Mile Long property in the city.

Sunvar legal representative Atty. Alma Mallonga, however, said that they will appeal the court's decision.

While Sunvar has appealed the MeTC Decision, it is committed to abiding by the legal process. In accordance with that commitment, Sunvar will comply and vacate Mile Long, Malongga said in a statement.

On Tuesday afternoon, Sunvar and all persons claiming rights under it received a 'Notice to Vacate' the property within three days.

The notice was issued by the Makati RTC Branch 141 pursuant to a resolution promulgated by the Court of Appeals on Monday directing it to enforce the 2015 decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Makati Branch 61 (MeTC Decision) ordering the company to vacate Mile Long and pay back rentals.

Malongga explained that some 35 years ago, Sunvar leased the undeveloped land of the government upon the understanding reflected in contracts annotated in the title of the land, that the lease period would expire in 2027.

She said that Sunvar paid PHP16.8 million as advance rentals, and expended millions more to build roads, buildings, and infrastructure to develop the property.

Relying on the same contract and understanding, small business owners and taxpayers purchased condominium units in Mile Long that are now the source of their livelihood, she said.

Some 35 years ago, at a time of political and economic uncertainty, Sunvar entered into a legitimate commercial transaction. It has pursued legal remedies to resist ejectment firmly believing there is a binding contractual commitment on the part of the government to honor a lease that is set to expire only in 2027, Mallonga noted.

The government leased the Mile Long property 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.

Solicitor General Jose 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.

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