SC issues TRO on GSIS control of San Jose condo
MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) has temporarily halted the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) from taking over a disputed Quezon City condominium, which unit buyers claim to be fraudulently sold.
The SC Third Division issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the enforcement of a trial court's writ of possession in favor of GSIS, on Wednesday, October 8.
The writ allows the GSIS to assume ownership of St John Condominium, a property developed by real estate firm New San Jose Builders Inc (NSJBI).
NSJBI had sold the condominium units to interested buyers without disclosing its P600-million ($13.39 million*) loan where the property was used as collateral.
The GSIS, as the highest bidder, acquired St John when it was foreclosed after NSJBI failed to pay the loan. The foreclosure proceedings transpired without the knowledge of the buyers.
The writ would have allowed a court sheriff to issue eviction notices to unit occupants who claim to be innocent purchasers of the now-foreclosed property.
Unit buyers claim the loan obtained by the developer was at the expense of people who were just trying to have their own home. (READ: Unit buyers cry fraud over new San Jose condo sale)
The 3rd division, while not yet committing to act on the petition, also ordered the GSIS and NSJBI to respond to the allegations in the unit buyers' plea, and for unit buyers to submit a statement indicating when they received a copy of the assailed writ of possession.
In cases of property disputes, the material date will be considered by the Court to determine if the unit buyers are guilty of laches, or unreasonable delay in making an assertion or claim, in this case, failure to immediately assert their right over the units.
A delay in the claim for an unreasonable amount of time may be tantamount to forfeiture.
This is not the first time a multi-million loan was obtained from the government through the GSIS, using property as collateral, and later hounded by disputes. The disputes arose from the existing claims of private individuals who had bought the properties without knowledge of the existing debt.
Previous petitions before the SC include a loan obtained by Cavite-based Queen's Row Subdivision Inc from the GSIS, using as collateral lots that it had sold to private buyers.
Queen's Row lot buyers filed individual petitions before the SC, after Queen's Row defaulted on its debt. The High Court issued different rulings for each case.
Up against giants, the unit buyers petitioning against GSIS and NSJBI over the St John condominium have banded together instead of filing individual suits.
One buyer had already secured his unit after the High Court ruled in his favor and declared void the mortgage between GSIS and NSJBI.
NSJBI is chaired by construction magnate Jose "Jerry" Acuzar.
The company had been associated in an anomalous P2.8-billion government housing contract during the presidency of now Manila mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada.
In a report in 2000, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism said Acuzar "has managed to win the favor of different administrations."
Acuzar is the owner of the Samar headquarters for the 2010 campaign of President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III. Acuzar is the brother-in-law of Executive Secretary Paquito "Jojo" Ochoa Jr.
Read the SC-issued TRO below.
*$1 = P44.79