The best is yet to come
HIDDEN AGENDA - Mary Ann LL. Reyes (The Philippine Star) - November 21, 2020 - 12:00am

Considered as the biggest resort city in the Philippines, the Island Garden City of Samal, which is a coastal component city of Davao del Norte, has always been a favorite tourist destination especially for those living in Davao City.

Samal Island covers about 300 kilometers. It has around 85 registered resorts, with some not that accessible. To get to Pearl Farm from the Davao airport or other places in Davao, one has to go to the Pearl Farm Marina in Lanang Davao Beach Club, board a boat and travel for around 45 minutes.

However,  once the planned bridge linking Davao City to Samal Island materializes, travelling there will be faster and tourist traffic is expected to increase, and the number of resorts, hotels, and other business establishments anticipated to multiply.

Aside from tourism, Samal Island is also starting to develop other areas of business activity, such as knowledge-based business-process outsourcing and information technology-enabled services, power and public utilities, light industries, transhipment and logistics facilities, retirement villages, agribusiness, and property development.

According to  European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines-Southern Mindanao Business Council chairman Antonio Peralta, these developments will require stable electricity in the island. Unfortunately, Samal Island has been experiencing sporadic power outages for the last several years and is currently receiving power supply from a submarine cable connected to Davao City and a diesel power plant. Observers noted, though, that the cable has long since deteriorated and the power plant is known to be an expensive source of power.

Peralta said the island should look into other ways to stabilize its electricity, the absence of which could deter prospective tourists from visiting. He emphasized that a reliable supply of electricity is a prerequisite to investments, and any type of instability lessens the value of investing since the cost of doing business increases.

Business in Davao del Norte is booming and this could easily overflow to Samal Island. That is assuming that the infrastructure, including the bridge and stable electricity, is there.

No end in sight

Any legal issue or conflict, once brought to our courts, has to be resolved and laid to rest with finality at some point. Otherwise, a delay in the dispensation of justice will result in injustice.

This is the reason why in one case, the Supreme Court emphasized that “being the court of last resort, it is the final arbiter of all legal questions properly brought before it, and its decision in any given case constitutes the law of that particular case. Once its judgment becomes final, it is binding on all inferior courts, and hence beyond their power and authority to alter or modify.”

Sometime in 1998, petitioner spouses Felix and Carmen Chua entered into a joint venture agreement (JVA) with Gotesco Properties for the development of their 44-hectare property in Quezon into a mixed-use subdivision. Pursuant to the JVA, deeds of absolute sale were executed to transfer the Chuas’ 32 parcels of land to Revere Realty Corp. owned by Jose Go. Accompanying the deeds of sale were two deeds of trust confirming that the Chuas would remain the owners of the properties.

The JVA, however,  did not materialize.

The Chuas and Lucena Grand Central Terminal owed UCPB around P204 million, and to pay for the loan which was already due and outstanding, the spouses agreed that their debt would be reduced by P103.8 million in exchange for 30 parcels of land and improvements. A real estate mortgage was executed involving 26 of the 30 parcels of land.

On the same day, UCPB and Revere executed another REM involving 18 properties covered by the JVA.

UCPB enforced the two REMs and foreclosed the mortgages, and the properties were sold for P227.7 million.

It was the Chuas’ contention that since the JVA did not materialize, only they could mortgage the subject properties and not Revere and Go.

The RTC agreed and said that Revere and Go are not the owners of the properties covered by the deed of trust and did not have authority to constitute a mortgage over them. The court also nullified the deed of REM between Revere, Go and UCPB, and ordered them to reconvey to the Chuas the 32 real properties listed in the deeds of trust.

In a 2017 decision, the SC reinstated the RTC ruling, and directed UCPB to return the Chua’s titles, of their choice, equivalent to P200 million, as well as the excess of the foreclosure proceeds amounting to P23 million.

The first motion for reconsideration filed by UCPB, Asset Pool A, Revere, and Go was denied by the SC in December 2018.

UCPB and SPV-AMC filed succeeding motions, including a joint motion for leave of court to file and admit the appended MR, a joint motion to refer the case to the court en banc, a joint motion for leave of court to file and admit a second MR, and a motion to resolve jurisdictional threshold issue to refer the case to the SC en banc all filed in 2019.

On July 24, 2019 the SC special third division denied with finality the second motion for being a prohibited pleading, at the same time issuing a warning that no further pleadings, motions, letters or other communications shall be entertained as an entry of judgment is to be issued immediately.

Inspite of this, UCPB and SPV-AMC last year filed a reiterative motion to resolve jurisdictional threshold issue to refer the case to the Court en banc, as well as a very urgent motion for the Court en banc to assume jurisdiction and to consolidate with another case.

Just last January, the SC special third division delivered what was supposed to be the last nail in the coffin of the case when it ordered all motions filed by UCPB and SPV-AMC to be expunged from the records of the case, reiterating that no further pleadings, motions, letters or other communications shall be entertained regarding the case.

Despite the warning that no further pleadings should be filed, UCPB last June filed a very urgent motion for the issuance of a TRO/special status quo order asking the Lucena RTC to restrain from enforcing the writ of execution issued on June 3, 2020.

In July, UCPB also filed a series of motions assailing the decisions reached on Aug. 16, 2017 (fourth motion), Dec. 17, 2018 (third motion) and the resolutions issued on July 24, 2019 (second motion) and Jan. 29, 2020 (first motion) by the SC.

Let’s see how the  SC Chief Justice will put an end to this legal matter.

For comments, e-mail at mareyes@philstarmedia.com

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