PUP wants back lot awarded to private firm
- Delon Porcalla () - December 28, 2001 - 12:00am
The Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) has asked the Supreme Court to reverse its Nov. 14 decision which awarded a 2.6-hectare lot in Sta. Mesa, Manila to a ceramics firm.

PUP lawyer Francisco Acejas III said the tribunal’s second division erred when it annulled Memorandum 214 of former President Aquino that ordered the transfer of the lot to the national government which would in turn convey it to PUP. The government lot was awarded by the lower court, the Court of Appeals and the SC to Firestone Ceramics Inc. because it was the occupant-lessee of the disputed property since 1965, and that it had the right of first refusal since 1978.

"Private agreements like the instant contracts of lease may be altered validly since (the award of land to PUP) involves public interest and must yield as a postulate of the existing social order," Acejas stated in his appeal.

‘The status of PUP, as the Poor Man’s University, is the primordial reason for offering a minimum amount of consideration for the transfer of the property," PUP reasoned out, because it doesn’t want to sell the land at P1,500 per square meter.

"The accent is on the vital thrust of education, or the giving of life and sinews to the State policy of prioritizing education, as well as the promotion of the right of all citizens to quality education by making it accessible or affordable," PUP added.

National Development Corp. had leased the property to Firestone since 1965. Their lessor-lessee relationship went smoothly until 1998 when Firestone informed the NDC of its renewal of the lease, which expired on Dec. 31, 1989.

Then President Corazon C. Aquino issued Memorandum Order No. 214 ordering the transfer of the whole NDC compound leased to Firestone to the National Government, which in turn would convey the property in favor of PUP.

The SC stressed it recognizes the state-owned school’s need to expand its campus to accommodate the growing number of student but clarified it also respects the lease contract between the NDC and Firestone.

"Paradoxically, our paramount interest in education does not license us, or any party for that matter, to destroy the sanctity of obligations. Education may be prioritized for legislative or budgetary purposes, but we doubt if such importance can be use to confiscate private property, such as Firestone’s right of first refusal," the SC ruled.

It also chided NDC for virtually selling the whole compound to PUP, including the leased premises, with neither the knowledge nor the consent of Firestone, which had a valid and existing right of first of refusal.

COURT OF APPEALS FIRESTONE FIRESTONE CERAMICS INC FRANCISCO ACEJAS MEMORANDUM ORDER NO NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT CORP NATIONAL GOVERNMENT POLYTECHNIC UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES POOR MAN PRESIDENT AQUINO PUP
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