(PR)Act on gov’t cases, Judiciary urged

March 4, 2012 12:57 pm 

MANILA, Mar. 3 – THE FINANCE department has requested the court administrator to look into a number of cases involving the government, which remain “unresolved for a protracted period” before the lower courts and the Supreme Court, urging immediate action on the part of Judiciary.

“We would like to bring to the attention of the Office of the Court Administrator the need to facilitate the disposition of cases before the lower courts and the Supreme Court given their significant impact on the economy, public finances and the country’s over-all investment climate,” Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima wrote in a letter to court administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez.

The letter was dated February 17 and was received by Marquez’s office last February 21.

Accompanying the letter was an “inventory” of cases that “involve payables to the national government and government-owned and –controlled corporations,” which Purisima said “effectively deprived the public of funds that are rightfully theirs.”

“Some are key investment related cases, the resolution of which will further boost the country’s image as a predictable and stable investment destination,” Purisima added.

A total of 29 cases were listed by the Finance department with one pending before a municipal trial court (MTC), 14 before the regional trial courts (RTC), four before the Court of Appeals and 10 before the Supreme Court. Cases dated back to as early as 2002.

A number of the cases involve interlocutory orders in primary cases such as that filed by the Privatization Management Office (PMO) against Sunvar Realty Development for the latter’s unlawful detainer of the government’s 2.9-hectare property in Makati City. Sunvar Realty allegedly has not been paying any rentals to the state, but continues to lease the property to other businesses at commercial rates.

The Makati MTC, where the case was filed in 2009, originally denied Sunvar Realty’s motion to dismiss. However, proceedings ceased when the Makati RTC Branch 134 granted Sunvar Realty’s petition for certiorari. Since then, the case has not moved pending the Supreme Court’s resolution of the government’s appeal of the Makati RTC’s decision.

The PMO is also awaiting the high court’s resolution of its case against Philippine International Corp. (PIC) filed in 2005, where it questioned the company’s alleged “unilateral automatic renewal” of its lease contract for another 25 years on the area occupied by Star City. This was after PIC refused to renegotiate the original rental rate for the land.

The 34,346-square meter area being occupied by the amusement park is part of the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex. The high court case was submitted for resolution in 2005, but until now, no decision has been issued.

The government’s Makati property and the land occupied by Star City were last appraised at around P1.7 billion and P1.1 billion, respectively, according to PMO.

Purisima said these cases are “preventing the government from earning substantial income,” which could have been “used to finance various projects and social programs for the people.”

Cases against the government were also included such as those filed by Philnico Industrial Corp. and Pacific Nickel Philippines, Inc. (PNPI).

In 2003, Philnico scored an injunction stopping the state from recovering its shares in Nonoc Mining and Industrial Corp. as a result of the company’s failure to fully pay the roughly US0 million purchase price for the shares. The injunction order has prevented the government from collecting the full purchase price or recovering the assets. In the meantime, mining operations continue on the project site resulting in the depletion of valuable non-renewable resources.

“We urge the courts to act and resolve with dispatch these cases considering their national relevance and impact,” Purisima said. (PNA) RSV/JS/utb

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