Statement of Sunvar Realty Development Corp. on illegal occupancy allegations
(Editor’s Note: The statement below was issued for Sunvar Realty Development Corp. by its legal representative, Atty. Alma D. Fernandez-Mallonga of the Siguion Reyna, Montecillo & Ongsiako Law Office.)
In light of conversations around the allegations of illegal occupancy, and the government bid to eject Sunvar Realty Development Corp. (Sunvar) from the 2.9-hectare property located between Dela Rosa and Arnaiz streets in Legazpi Village, Makati City, we at Sunvar wish to clarify that:
On the property and expanded lease area
Back in December 1977, the National Power Corp. (Napocor) and the government leased its 125,607-square-meter undeveloped property, stretching from Bangkal to Dasmariñas Village in Makati City, to Technology Resource Center Foundation Inc. (TRCFI).
Sunvar was interested in subleasing only 3,000 sq m of the TRCFI-leased property to serve as parking and access for its Makati Square shoppers and moviegoers.
TRCFI, however, insisted on having the entire 22,924 sq m property rented by Sunvar.
This expanded hectarage would not boost Sunvar’s needed access, as this property’s only entrance was a narrow opening facing Arnaiz Street, with the front blocked by Amorsolo Creek and part of the area across Makati Medical Center occupied by informal settlers.
But needing the Amorsolo access, Sunvar agreed in August 1980 to the all-or-nothing long-term sublease agreement with TRCFI—leasing a strip that had no road, clean water, drainage, electricity or communication.
Full advance payment for 50-year contract
Sunvar paid TRCFI the full advance of P16.8 million to cover the entire lease period; an initial period of nearly 25 years, renewable for another 25 years at Sunvar’s exclusive option.
This payment is equivalent to acquiring 14,000 sq m of buildable property in Legaspi Village.
The sublease agreements between Sunvar and TRCFI—annotated in the title of the government to inform land owners and the public—provided that should Sunvar decide to exercise the option to renew the sublease, it shall notify the lessor in writing not less than six months before end-2002.
In April 2002, eight months before the first 25-year lease expired, Sunvar notified Napocor, the government as well as TRCFI (since dissolved, with functions assumed by Philippine Development Alternatives Foundation Inc., or PDAF) that it was exercising its exclusive option to extend the lease for another 25 years.
Sunvar likewise tendered payment of rentals for the extended period.
Respecting the sanctity of public-private contracts
Napocor, mandated by the government to privatize all its assets, informed PDAF of the nonrenewal of the sublease.
PDAF subsequently informed Sunvar.
Sunvar responded that Napocor and the government must honor the lease agreement contract.
More-than-fair lease price
The lease price paid by Sunvar was comparably more than fair, around equal to purchasing the property at the time, and despite limits on only 50 percent of the entire area being usable for building construction.
Sunvar developed where possible and subleased the rest to other property developers with the same rights it had under the TRCFI lease agreement.
And so besides the original intent of Makati Square Amorsolo side access and parking area, the once barren land was improved with The Gallery building, Mile Long Theme Center building, Premiere THX Cinema, and more.
Sunvar occupies only a fraction of the property
Sunvar is not the only occupant of the government-owned, 125,000-sq-m property. There are other occupants, including Ecology Village residents, the Makati police headquarters, fire station and post office, the Don Bosco parking lot, and informal settlers.
As of this writing, the government has only publicly stated wanting to eject the occupant that advanced a P16.8-million lease with a contract until December 2027.
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