Supreme Court OKs trial of Sunvar caseBy Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Supreme Court has green-lighted the trial of a civil case filed by the government against Sunvar Realty Development Corp. involving the latter’s lease contract for a 2.9-hectare prime property in Makati City.
In a 21-page resolution, the high court overturned the Dec. 1, 2010, ruling of the Makati City Regional Trial Court which stopped the Makati City Metropolitan Trial Court from hearing the unlawful detainer case for lack of jurisdiction.
Sunvar, owned by Prieto and Rufino families, said it would seek a clarification of the ruling from the tribunal, saying the realty firm had the exclusive option to extend for another 25 years under the same terms of its 25-year lease contract for the Mile Long property which expired in December 2002.
The case was filed by the government and National Power Corp. (Napocor) through the Office of the Solicitor General, then headed by Agnes Devanadera, a known ally of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, giving rise to suspicions her administration was out to harass the Prieto and Rufino families who also own the Inquirer.
The government, which wanted to change the terms of the extended lease agreement, is seeking to collect over P630 million in rentals and damages from Sunvar.
In recalling the Makati RTC’s decision, the high tribunal said the lower court erred when it declared that the period within which the government should have filed the case had already lapsed.
The Makati RTC “should have dismissed outright . . . Sunvar’s petition considering that it is a prohibited pleading,” the tribunal said in the decision written by Associate Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.
“The court finds that petitioners (the government and Napocor) correctly availed themselves of an action for unlawful detainer, hence, reverses the ruling by the Makati RTC,” it added.
Sunvar had been occupying the property, located at the corner of Arnaiz Avenue and Dela Rosa Street, on the basis of a sublease agreement with the Technology Resource Center Foundation Inc., which was granted by the government to lease the area from Jan. 1, 1978 until Dec. 31, 2002.