City’s take-over of asin property lawful – Mayor

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BAGUIO CITY – The city government’s take-over of the Asin Hotspring Resort Complex in Asin, Nangalisan, Tuba, Benguet was a just and lawful act to protect its own property based on a court order. Mayor Mauricio Domogan on Wednesday said the move was based on the decision of the court sustaining the writ of execution for the ejectment of long-time occupant Roger Sinot from the 4,344 square meter-city property of which ownership had been ruled upon in a decision dated July 15, 1972 adjudicating it to the city government of Baguio by virtue of a deed of sale between Lucio Ramirez and the city.

“We had to implement the court’s decision pursuant to the law and I assure you that it is nothing personal; we are just protecting the city’s property and the rule of law,” the mayor said as he dismissed claims of harassment and other attempts to misinform the public on what was really happening in the area. The 5th Municipal Circuit Trial Court in Tuba-Sablan, Benguet First Judicial Region, in a decision dated Sept 3, 2018 denied Sinot’s motion to quash the writ for lack of merit.

Acting Presiding Judge Modesto Bahul Jr. dismissed Sinot’s contention that a court-approved survey plan was needed to implement the court’s decision dated October 4, 2010 that favored his ejectment from the premises.

The 2010 decision ordered Sinot to “immediately vacate the subject parcel of land with an area of 4,344,23 square meters located at Nangalisan, Tuba, Benguet with improvements consisting of a swimming pool, bathhouse, hydroelectric plant and roads… and surrender the possession thereof peacefully…”

“Accordingly, defendant could not claim that the subject matter is only half (1/2) of the Resort Complex is within the property of the plaintiff because even in the Contract of Lease which he relies upon entered into between him and then Mayor Bernardo Vergara in 2002, the same subject matter as that original contract of lease was described therein,” the court said.

It further said that the 2010 decision did not require said survey plan as it might be “tantamount to allowing the presentation of additional evidence with regard the subject property whereas the subject Decision has long become final and executory.”

Sinot filed a motion for reconsideration of the September 3, 2018 decision which the court quashed in a decision dated Nov. 20, 2018.

Copies of turn-over receipts showed that Sinot turned over the subject parcel of land with the improvements on Nov. 26 to Sheriffs IV Joselito Tumbaga and John Marie Ocasia who in turn turned over the same to the city government.

Following the court order, the city secured the premises and posted personnel to guard the place. Court records said the city in 2009 then under Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. filed a case for ejectment with damages against Sinot after failing to pay his obligations to the city.

Sinot entered into a lease agreement with spouses Catbagan over the subject property without the city’s authorization for a period of 20 years or until 1996.

The lease agreement between the city and the Catbagans was terminated with the lessee incurring arrears.

“Sometime in 2002, Sinot proposed a new lease agreement to (the city) thereby acknowledging ownership by the (city) over the subject property.  However, the agreement was never consummated,” the court noted.

Sinot failed to fully pay the obligation he assumed from the Catbagans and did not pay for the rentals over the property since his assumption amounting to P1,556,220 as of March 2009.

He also did not heed the city’s demand for him to vacate the property.

Sinot was then questioning the city’s ownership of the property claiming that an actual survey showed that only half of the resort is within the property of the city.

He also insisted that his possession over the property is legal by virtue of his lease contract which he maintained as valid. He also contested the veracity of the arrears and said his refusal to pay was because of the city’s failure to act on his requests for recomputation and condonation. – Aileen P. Refuerzo

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