CA stops P1.1-B NHA settlement with developer
The Court of Appeals (CA) has shot down an amicable settlement that would have paid a developer P1.1 billion for a controversial housing project.
The amicable settlement was with the company owned by real estate magnate Reghis Romero II for its Smokey Mountain project in Tondo, Manila.
In a resolution, the CA’s First Division decided to submit consolidated cases on the project for resolution after the National Housing Authority (NHA) and Romero’s R-II Builders Inc. failed to come up with a compromise deal.
“Considering that up to date, no joint compromise agreement has been concluded by the parties, the court opted to terminate the mediation proceedings, and the consolidated cases are reverted back to appellate proceedings,” read a portion of the court’s Oct. 19 resolution, which was released to the parties only last week.
R-II Builders entered into a joint venture agreement with the NHA during the Ramos administration for the Smokey Mountain Development and Reclamation Project, which was envisioned to turn the dump into a portside community to provide decent housing to 3,000 poor families.
The project, however, led to a string of legal cases after Romero’s company entered into an asset pool arrangement with several government financial institutions when it ran out of money to complete the project in 1994.
The company and the NHA had negotiated a P1.1-billion settlement, which some housing officials and the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel had opposed.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo dropped hints that the case could have led to the sacking of Falconi Millar as chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) last week.
On Monday, Malacanang said NHA General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr. would be performing the functions of HUDCC chair but was not being appointed as acting chair or officer-in-charge.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said it was President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to give Escalada just additional duties in the position vacated by the firing of Millar by the President.
The directive came five days after the President sacked Millar over allegations of corruption.
The President, however, stopped short of giving details about the cases of corruption against Millar.
Panelo said a company trying to collect money from the HUDCC was the one which made the allegations against Millar.
The Palace gave an assurance that Millar would be charged.
Millar said he was victim of an “obvious demolition job” and had been ready to resign prior to his firing. —WITH A REPORT FROM JULIE M. AURELIO
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