Balili estate heir to court: Don’t make us refund sum

(The Freeman) - March 14, 2015 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - One of the previous owners of the controversial Balili property in Naga City wants the court to relieve him of the burden of refunding the provincial government P37.81 million.

The amount represents the cost of the property found to be submerged in water and mangrove-forested, which the provincial government bought during the time of Governor Gwendolyn Garcia.

In a 10-page motion for reconsideration, lawyer Romeo Balili asked the court to set aside the February 16 decision and relieve him the burden of paying the amount.

He said “the basis of claim of refund is the erroneous survey” conducted by the province.

Balili said that when the province’s Geodetic Engineer Roy Cabunilas conducted the relocation survey, he reportedly did not use the “original survey” done by another geodetic engineer, Emilio Geonzon, in 1997.

The lawyer claimed that Geonzon followed the “old corners,” as approved by the Supreme Court (Lichauco vs. Heirs of Licauco) to approach the same area and configuration.

“Any clerical error in the technical description in narrative form typed in the titles alters the ‘area and configuration’ in the approved original survey of Engr. Emilio S. Geonzon,” Balili’s motion reads.

Citing the “basic error,” he said there is “no proof” that an area of 80,124 square meters out of Lot SP-0701-000048 is submerged in seawater. The same also goes to the 14,402 square meters of Lot SP 07-01-00062, which is said to be a mangrove area, which Garcia had alleged were defects on the titles.

“Therefore, there is no cause of action for refund in the amount of P37,810,400,” Balili said.

Being the executor of the sale, Balili claimed he is “not personally liable” to the province.

He said the sale of the properties of the estate of Luis Balili was “upon the instance of all the heirs” and that he, being the lawyer, “only assisted” them.

He reportedly was not a party to the negotiation, as the family hired a real estate broker and “some persons,” as quoted in the decision of this case, to negotiate with the province.

“The judgment to return the P37,810,400 is based on the theory of ‘unjust enrichment,’” he said, adding that all payments went to the estate of Luis Balili and “not a cent” went to his pockets.


Meanwhile, Board Member Grecilda Sanchez wants a review of the facts and issues surrounding the property and the purchase.

Sanchez said that as head of the Provincial Board’s committee on municipal and provincial properties, she cannot just “sit and do nothing” especially that her father, the late vice governor Gregorio Sanchez, had opposed the purchase.

She said her father even wanted the contract rescinded so that the board could authorize Garcia to renegotiate for a lower price.

“Within my jurisdiction as chairman of the (committee on) municipal and provincial properties, I feel it is my responsibility to look into this matter,” she told reporters yesterday.

She said she decided to review the case after finding documents, along with other files, about the property that her father had kept before he died in 2011.

One of the documents she found was an authorization letter to an unidentified broker dated December 26, 2003 and signed by Amparo Balili, the widow of Luis Balili, and Romeo Balili, the estate’s executor.

According to the letter, the selling price of the 25-hectare estate was P85 million. If sold, the Balilis were only to receive P65 million, while the remaining P20 million would be utilized for other expenses, with half of the amount as ‘incentive’ to the broker.

Sanchez, however, said she has yet to look into the authenticity of the letter.

“It’s quite alarming to me that I felt the need to further investigate especially in relation to the return of the P37million to be returned to the Capitol… These (documents) are all handed to me. I felt it’s my obligation (to review). I am compelled to let the public know the truth,” she said.

Sanchez said she would propose to the board to peruse the documents so it can recommend specific actions that Governor Hilario Davide can take to aid the case still involving the property pending before the Sandiganbayan.  — /JMO (FREEMAN)


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