Chavit Singson camp asserts claim on Ortigas lot
The camp of former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson has cautioned companies looking to participate in the state auction of the disputed 18.5-hectare “Payanig” property near the Ortigas business district in Metro Manila, saying that their group is the true owner.
A lawyer for Singson’s BLEMP Commercial Philippines Inc., which is claiming most of the land and possessing the necessary documentation to support this, said that the parties should “determine who really owns the property before expressing any interest in acquiring it.”
“To put it in the simplest terms possible, the PCGG and the government can’t sell something that they do not own,” Dennis Manalo, legal counsel for BLEMP, said in a statement e-mailed to the Inquirer.
Manalo was referring to the Presidential Commission on Good Government, the government agency tasked with recovering ill-gotten assets of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The agency recently issued the bid terms for the Payanig property on an “as is where is.”
PCGG chair Andres Bautista did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.
The auction, whose bid deadline has been set on June 3, has attracted several groups, including some of the country’s biggest companies like a unit of Henry Sy’s SM Prime Holdings, Ayala Land and San Miguel Corp.
The companies already purchased bid documents, but a final decision on whether they would submit actual offers would not be known until June 3.
“We still have to do the due diligence. We have to understand the issues very well,” SM Prime president Hans Sy told reporters this week.
But Sy said that, with the June 3 deadline, there might not be enough time for the bidders to properly evaluate the property. He also cited the uncertainties that marked the proceedings, particularly the competing claims.
The PCGG has set a minimum offer price of P16.45 billion, which translates to almost P89,000 per square meter. The Metro Walk commercial development occupies the lot located on the corner of Ortigas, Meralco and Doña Julia Vargas Avenues—a strategic location near a key business district.
The Payanig property supposedly came under the government’s control after Marcos was ousted by a popular revolt in 1986 when businessman Jose Y. Campos—a known Marcos associate—surrendered to the PCGG land titles of the property owned by a company called Mid-Pasig Land Development Corp.
Mid-Pasig Land remains the registered owner of the land, the PCGG said.
Mid-Pasig Land is the same company that acquired the land from its original owners, the Ortigas family. The family claimed that it was forced to sell the property at disadvantageous terms due to the “intimidation and undue influence” Marcos allegedly exerted on Francisco Ortigas.
BLEMP added in its statement that it had already filed graft charges against several government officials, including Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, PCGG’s Bautista, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima after the Privatization Council ordered the PCGG to publish the invitation to bid for the Payanig property.
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