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PWU asset in Taft foreclosed by Tanco group

Auction for 7,000-sqm property failed to attract bidders

MANILA, Philippines–The STI Group of businessman Eusebio “Yosi” Tanco has succeeded in foreclosing on the Taft campus of beleaguered Philippine Women’s University (PWU) in Manila after a public auction for this property attracted no  bidder.

Based on a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, the sheriff proceeded with the auction of PWU’s Taft property on March 18 following an extra-judicial foreclosure filed by STI, a creditor of the Benitez family-led university.

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In the absence of any stay order from the court despite a petition for PWU’s rehabilitation filed by matriarch Helena Benitez, the bidding pushed through.

The foreclosed Taft property is a 7,000-square meter lot along Pilar Hidalgo Lim St. in Malate, Manila where a heritage building stands.  There are about 2,000 to 3,000 students in this campus, bigger than the 1,000 student population in its Quezon City campus, which is also the subject of foreclosure proceedings initiated by STI.

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Unless prevented by the courts, STI intends to consolidate titles to all properties in four locations covered by the foreclosure proceedings. The others are in another part of Manila and in Davao.  The Benitez family still runs the university to date.

“Right now, I don’t think they (Benitez family) can sustain the school. By next month, the school will run out of money whereas in as far as STI is concerned, we can run the school much better than they do,” Tanco said in a phone interview. “The alumni, student and faculty have a better future with STI than with the present management of PWU and they will get a better and more relevant education under STI management.”

“We will do what is legal and what is right,” Tanco said.

In a separate statement, the Benitez group lamented the foreclosure of the Taft campus, saying this would only hurt the school and threaten the welfare of the students, faculty and employees.

In a statement issued after STI’s disclosure on the foreclosure, PWU media director Lydia Benitez-Brown noted that PWU chair Helena Benitez had already filed a petition for rehabilitation which the family was hoping would give PWU a breathing space in the face of STI’s foreclosure proceedings.

“A petition for rehabilitation has been filed to pay PWU’s debts at a reasonable rate and, more importantly, ensure the continued operation of the university. This matter is now in the hands of the rehabilitation court,” Brown said.

“It is now very evident that STI is totally disregarding the welfare of PWU. This is what we have been saying all along, that the priorities of STI’s owner, Eusebio Tanco, are incompatible with those of the Benitez group and the PWU stakeholders,” she added.

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Brown said STI Holdings had rejected amicable settlement proposals for the debt assumed by Tanco in 2011.

“The foreclosure is a clear proof that STI will always put business ahead of education. The action validates our concerns. It is an unfortunate and disappointing development but we have confidence in the fairness of the courts and that the legal system will protect the interest of our students,” she said.

STI is demanding P923 million as payment for the loans and declared PWU in default of these loans. The Benitez family contested the default declaration as well as the computation of the loan. The family has offered a compromise settlement amounting to P644.44 million, which STI has rejected.

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TAGS: auction, Education, foreclosure, Philippine Women's University, PWU, school, STI
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