REDISCOVER the Cultural Center of the Philippines (UPDATE)
As a fitting follow up to the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) 2-part special report I co-wrote almost four years ago (Grand plan to change face of Cultural Center complex) and (‘Commercialized CCP embraces the poor), the Court of Appeals recently uphold CCP’s lot ownership – an issue that was saddling the CCP for years and hindering its potential to grow as a healthy, mixed-use venue for arts, culture, and commerce.
Following is the release from CCP:
CA UPHOLDS CCP OWNERSHIP OF LOTS
The Court of Appeals (CA) permanently granted the petition filed by the Philippine government through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), stopping the City of Pasay and the Republic Real Estate Corporation (RREC) from selling the lots within the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Complex over the government’s alleged failure to pay the reclamation costs made by RREC.
In a fifteen-page decision dated February 27, 2009, penned by Associate Justice Sesinando Villon and concurred by Associate Justices Andres B. Reyes, Jr. and Jose Catral Mendoza, the CA’s former Fourth Division granted to the Philippine government, with CCP as intervenor, its petition to declare null and void the Writ of Execution for the auction of two CCP lots dated May 8, 2007 issued by RTC 109 Presiding Judge Tingaraan U. Guiling and the Sheriff’s Notice of Execution and Notice to Pay dated May 11, 2007 in Civil Case No. 2229-P and uphold its earlier decision on the Writ of Preliminary Injunction as permanent. The appellate court has already issued a Notice of Judgment last March 2, 2009.
“We are pleased that finally the issue has been settled, and that we can now buckle down to the challenge of ensuring sustainability for the CCP,” said CCP Chair Emily Abrera. “It’s quite timely, as we are celebrating our 40th year. What a great way to mark our anniversary!”
In June 2008, the City Government of Pasay auctioned off to RREC the 23.89 hectares covering two lots titled in CCP’s name both located in the cities of Pasay and Manila, and a part of the 55 hectares of the prime property whose ownership has been contested by RREC and Pasay City since 1997. However, the Supreme Court ruled with finality in favor of the national government and the CCP in November 1998. The lands are presently occupied by Boom na Boom and the Ipil-Ipil area, extending up to the Manila Film Center.
In its decision, the CA agreed with the Philippine government that an execution must conform and be warranted by the judgment on which it was issued. Further, it was stated that “it should conform to the dispositive portion of the decision to be executed, and the execution is void if it is in excess of and beyond the original judgment or award.” In this case, the Writ of Execution and the sheriff’s Notice of Execution and Notice to Pay ordered the government to pay the respondents a staggering P49.17 billion, way beyond the Supreme Court’s decision in November 1998 to pay the respondents P10.9 million plus 6% interest per annum.
In addition, “the assailed sheriff’s notice of execution and notice to pay is palpably at variance with what was embodied in the Supreme Court decision.” The CA declared that the SC’s decision was categorical and unequivocal in its language when it ordered the national government to pay the respondents only P10,926,071.29 plus 6% per annum from May 1, 1962 until full payment. CA continued that there is no justification for the adjustment of the judgment award to its present day value. Hence, the said Writ of Execution and the Notice of Execution and Notice to Pay were issued in violation of the said Supreme Court decision and the Commission on Audit (COA). The CA also contended that said documents were issued with “grave abuse of discretion which this Court must correct.”
“This decision proves that our Philippine justice and legal systems do work, that no matter how long it takes, eventually justice will be served,” said Abrera. “We look forward to building a more robust future for Philippine culture and the arts, and we are confident that we have the creativity to make our vision a reality.”
The CCP’s 23.89 hectare lands are part of the Clusters 3 and 4 of the Business and Master Development Plan for the CCP Complex drawn up by the Planning Resources and Operations Systems, Inc. (PROS), the company tasked with the development of the plan. The plan-which covers some 60 hectares of land available for development, is the framework for a comprehensive artistic, cultural, ecological, commercial and tourism development to develop the CCP Complex into a cultural and tourism landmark not only in the Philippines, but also in Asia. Cluster 3 or the mixed-use area will accommodate an office bloc, multi-purpose hall and an artists center, while Cluster 4 or arts “living rooms” will contain open space venues, residential-commercial blocks for commercial and business use, a transport terminal as well as artists’ multi-purpose spaces.
The CCP Complex Development Plan is now open for interested business partners and investors.