18 October 2010

‘SBMA did not defy RTC order over lease dispute’

The Regional Trial Court of Olongapo City allowed officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) to “mark the area covered by the expired lease contract” of a computer college here, which has declined to transfer its facilities presently located within an area set for a major commercial development .

SBMA Deputy Administrator Atty. Randy Escolango and Legal Department Chief Atty. Von Rodriguez led the SBMA team that visited the vacant lot adjacent to the administration building of Comteq Computer and Business College, where about 500 students and faculty members protested SBMA’s re-possession of the 1,200-square meter area here.

“Judge Raymund Viray of the Regional Trial Court has allowed SBMA to mark this area which is covered by the expired lease contract of Comteq, and that was what we did today - nothing more,” said Rodriguez.

Comteq has asked the Olongapo RTC to stop SBMA from demolishing the school facilities to give way to the development of a multi-million peso business and commercial center in the Freeport’s Central Business District that would extend up to the business district of Olongapo City.

“The protesters drew up posters urging us (SBMA) to respect the RTC’s status quo order. Of course, we would not dare defy the court’s order - that would be a foolish thing for us to do. We merely proceeded with what we told the court we would do and which the latter allowed us to,” said Rodriguez.

SBMA records show that the contract which covers the vacant lot has already expired.

Two other lease agreements with Comteq were pre-terminated by the SBMA on Thursday (October 13) since the school has failed to settle its financial obligations amounting to P2,363,000.00 plus US$9,971 in dollar accounts.

“The SBMA twice gave Comteq a 30-day curing period to settle its arrears in full or submit an acceptable terms of payment even if the contracts in fact allowed a one-time 30-day curing period. The second curing period, however, expired last July 7, without SBMA receiving any payment or sincere proposal from the school. The fact that it is already October or more than 3 months after July 7 shows that we have observed utmost leniency with them,” Rodriguez noted.

The fate of the two remaining ‘active’ lease agreements of Comteq with SBMA remains a court issue.

Both parties met with Judge Viray on Friday, who ordered them to file their respective position papers within seven days. From these, the judge will base his decision on whether to issue a temporary restraining order or an injunction.

“If the court issues an injunction, that will enjoin us from pre-terminating the two remaining leases and demolishing the structures there,” said Rodriguez.

“Pag wala, we can proceed,” he added.

Rodriguez said that in the Friday hearing, Comteq asked for SBMA’s commitment not to demolish anything yet. (SBMA Corporate Communications)