QC seizes Manila Seedling Bank lot
City gov’t cites P57M in unpaid taxes, issues ejection orderBy Julie M. Aurelio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Quezon City government Tuesday took over the seven-hectare lot occupied by the Manila Seedling Bank Foundation Inc. (MSBFI) for the past 35 years after the one-year redemption period for the auctioned property expired last Friday.
City Administrator Dr. Victor Endriga told the Inquirer in an interview that the takeover was prompted by the MSBFI’s failure to pay more than P57 million worth of taxes to the city government over a 10-year period.
He added that Mayor Herbert Bautista earlier wrote the foundation and asked it to vacate the lot at the corner of Quezon Avenue and Edsa.
The area, part of the Quezon City Central Business District being pushed by the city government, is owned by the National Housing Authority (NHA).
“The city treasurer’s office auctioned off the Manila Seedling Bank Foundation property on July 7, 2011, for nonpayment of real property taxes from 2001 to 2011 amounting to P57.208 million,” Endriga said.
The foundation had until July 6 this year to redeem the property but it failed to settle its dues, leading to the takeover, he added.
According to him, the property is taxable since the foundation is a private entity and had even leased portions of the lot to tenants.
Following the takeover, Bautista ordered the city government’s Department of Public Order and Safety and the Quezon City Police District to secure the area.
The MSBFI’s lawyer, however, slammed the city government’s move, saying it has no authority to take over the property.
“For so many years, the property was owned by the NHA and [it had the] better sense not to grab the property,” DD Fregillana Jr. told the Inquirer over the phone.
‘This is martial law’
“Our right to possess the property does not depend on the city government,” he added.
He said that the city government should have gotten an ejection order from the court instead of just writing a letter to the foundation.
Fregillana added that contrary to the city government’s claim, the foundation should not be held liable for the unpaid taxes under the Civil Code.
He told the Inquirer that personnel from the city government have barred the entry of private vehicles into the compound, preventing some of the MSBFI’s tenants from going in.
“It’s like martial law here,” Fregillana said.
According to him, the foundation will contest the city government’s order by seeking a temporary restraining order from the court.
Endriga, however, said that the P57.208 million real property tax liability of the MSBFI was upheld by the Supreme Court in a ruling it issued two years ago.
In 2009, Judge Bayani Vargas of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 219 declared null and void the first auction of the MSBFI property which was carried out in December 2005.
The foundation filed an appeal that went all the way to the Supreme Court which ruled in the city government’s favor in 2010 after it denied the petition for review filed by the MSBFI.
The high court’s decision became final and executory on Feb. 21, 2011, after which a second auction was conducted in July that same year.