Mining, realty firm clarifies building deal that went awryBy Doris C. Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
In a press statement, the publicly listed Omico said an article that recently reported on the case pertained to a “purely private and civil dispute” between Omico and the Guevara group via their corporations Guevent Investments Development Corp. and Honeycomb Builders Inc.
“It is unfortunate the Guevaras abused judicial processes and imputed a baseless criminal aspect on the dispute. Worse, the article baselessly dragged the name of the President and infused political color to a purely private dispute,” Omico said.
Pimico issued the statement in reaction to an article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer headlined “Aquino’s uncle faces estafa raps.”
The case for syndicated estafa was filed by Domingo and Reynaldo Guevara in the Mandaluyong City Prosecutor’s Office against the directors of Omico, whom they accused of diverting P250 million originally intended for the construction of a 28-story building in Makati City.
Omico is chaired by Antonio Lopa, brother of Ricardo “Baby” Lopa who is married to a sister of President Benigno Aquino’s mother, former President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino. Earlier reports mistakenly described Antonio Lopa as an uncle of the President.
Saved from foreclosure
The statement noted that in 1995, the Guevaras sought Omico’s assistance in bailing them out of imminent foreclosure by China Bank of four contiguous parcels of land located between Alphaland and the Magallanes interchange at the corner of Pasong Tamo extension and Edsa in Makati City.
Omico obliged them and the Guevaras’ properties were saved from foreclosure, the company said. As a consequence, the Guevaras sold two of the four lots to Omico.
The statement said that subsequently, the Guevaras and Omico entered into a joint venture agreement (JVA) in 1995 for the construction of a mixed-use condominium building on the four contiguous parcels of land.
One of the conditions of the deal was that Omico would increase its paid-up capital by at least P250 million and allocate the amount for the development of the mixed-used condominium building contemplated under the joint venture.
“Omico raised more than the required funds through private placement or subscription of Omico common shares. However, due to the Asian currency crisis in 1997, the parties to the JVA shelved the project,” the statement said.
“When the real estate market started to pick up in 2001, the development of a viable condominium building under the JVA was rendered impractical with the implementation by Makati of an ordinance limiting to FAR-4 (floor area ratio) the height of a proposed building vis-à-vis its land surface area. This meant that the height of the building that could have been built on the land if the full area was occupied would have been limited to four stories only,” the statement said.
Properties rented out
In the meantime, the statement said, the Guevaras had asked Omico to allow them to rent out the properties. “The Guevaras took it upon themselves to collect the rentals and promised to remit to Omico its share. But the Guevaras never remitted Omico’s share,” the statement said.
Omico noted that in 2007, the joint venture agreement—not having been implemented for more than 10 years from its signing—expired by operation of law. The Guevaras, however, claimed that because of the nonimplementation of the JVA, they suffered losses of more than P500 million and sent several demand letters to Omico.
At the same time, they asked Omico to jointly enter into a venture with Alphaland Corp. to develop the lots on terms much more advantageous to the Guevaras than to Omico, the statement said.
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