National Press Club wins again over GSIS

Press release

JERRY S. YAP, 09178980988
National Press Club

National Press Club

wins again over GSIS

CA dismisses motion for recon seeking to evict newsmen’s group from NPC bldg.

The Court of Appeals (CA) has denied the motion for reconsideration of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) seeking to reverse the decision affirming the ruling of the Regional Trial Court of Manila in dismissing the case seeking to evict National Press Club from its home, the historic National Press Club Building.

The CA trashed the motion by ruling that it found no cogent reason to reverse or modify its decision dismissing the petition for review filed by the GSIS seeking to overturn the decision of the RTC of Manila, Branch 19.

The RTC of Manila, in turn, reversed the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila, Branch 22, which ruled that NPC must be evicted from the NPC Bldg.

In a resolution dated May 10, 2011, the CA’s Sixth Division resolved that the motion for reconsideration of the GSIS lacked merit in its position that it merely tolerated the NPC to stay in the NPC Bldg. after it bought the NPC property from the auction sale conducted on April 15, 1975 by the City Government of Manila where the lone bidder was the state pension firm.

Since it was built in 1956 as designed by Architect Julio Nakpil, the NPC has been occupying the building making it as the permanent home of the biggest and the oldest group of newsmen in the country.

The NPC leaders of old mortgaged several times the NPC Bldg. and the PLDT Bldg. and the land upon where they stand. The last mortgagee was the GSIS.

At the same time, the leaders failed to pay real property taxes to the City Government, leading the City Treasurer to order and hold an auction sale. The GSIS wanted to protect the property so it bought the property during the auction as the sole bidder.

The NPC leaders failed to redeem the property, allowing the law on consolidation to operate to transfer the ownership over the property to the GSIS a year after the registration of the said sale at the back of NPC’s certificate of title, TCT No. 38690.

The GSIS transferred the property to its name on June 1, 1995 under TCT No. 216162. It then subdivided the property in 2004 into two, resulting in the issuance of two certificates: TCT No. 265235 and TCT No. 265236.

However, on January 28, 1977, then President Ferdinand E. Marcos, using his legislative powers under Amendment No. 6 of the 1973 Constitution, promulgated Letter of Instructions No. 500, commanding the GSIS to give unto the NPC that part of the property where the NPC Bldg. stands and taking the other part where the PLDT property stands.

The land where the NPC Bldg. stands is covered by TCT No. 265236.

With the property in its name, the GSIS filed an eviction case against NPC upon the theory that it merely tolerated the NPC to use the NPC Bldg. and the land, and it was now withdrawing that tolerance.

The MeTC of Manila ruled in favor of the GSIS, despite the strong defense of the NPC that between a law that says that the owner is the NPC and the certificate of the title that says that the owner is the GSIS, the law should prevail.

On appeal, the RTC of Manila ruled in favor of the NPC, ruling that the GSIS failed to produce evidence showing better right to possession over the property, noting that the law (LOI 500) constitutes as a supervening event to put into doubt the claim of the GSIS to the right to possession.

In the absence of a clear evidence of better right to possession, the RTC ruled to keep the status quo and thus eviction cannot lie.

The GSIS brought the matter to the Court of Appeals by way of a petition for review. But it ruled there was no tolerance to speak of.

The appellate court justified that for tolerance to be existing, there must be clear and convincing evidence that the plaintiff expressly told the defendant that the latter was only tolerated to use the property.

To the contrary, the CA noted the argument of the NPC lawyers that in the face of the utter lack of evidence of tolerance the NPC has been submitting letters asking the President of the Philippines to implement LOI 500.

When there is no tolerance to speak of, then there is no unlawful or illegal detaining of the property.

The CA also noted that the GSIS “failed to show that the parties had entered into a contract express or implied, or that there was possession by tolerance.”

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