Rama: Money claims won’t disrupt Filinvest joint venture

Posted on November 13, 2011


Tristan Las Marias (far right), first vice president of Filinvest, shows to Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama (second from right) a model of their condominium project. With them is Andrew Gotianun Jr. (third from right), Filinvest vice chairman, and SRP administrator Bu Vasquez. (CDN PHOTO/ LITO TECSON)

Cebu City’s joint venture with Filinvest in the South Road Properties (SRP) “won’t be held hostage” by the Rallos heirs.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama made the assurance after yesterday’s joint inspection of ongoing construction of high-end housing units in Citta di Mare, Filinvest’s Mediterranean-inspired “city by the sea” in the SRP.

He was accompanied by Filinvest vice chairman Andrew “Bibot” Gotianun.

In contrast, Rep. Tomas Osmeña of Cebu City’s south district, warned that Rama was endangering the commercial success of the joint venture with his refusal to settle with the Rallos heirs.

Rama, who joined the inspection, said the city’s court case with the Rallos heirs will be “100 percent settled” before Dec. 13, the date of the auction of city-owned property scheduled by the court .

City Hall lawyers earlier said they would challenge a court decision ordering the city government to pay Rallos heirs P133 million as just compensation for land that was used as a public road in barangay Sambag.

“Customers should know that we (city and FLI) didn’t have the joint venture agreement just to be troubled by the case. There are better options to take. We will avail of legal options,” the mayor said.

Two Filinvest officials said the two condominium projects won’t be built in the 9.7-hectare lot that was earlier identified for auction as payment to the Rallos heirs.

Filinvest’s Citta di Mare (City by the Sea) project in the SRP will house two condominium clusters called Amalfi Oasis and San Remo Oasis.

“The auctioned lot is not Amalfi or San Remo,” said Filinvest first vice president Tristan Las Marias.

Work is being ramped up for the first 150 new living units. Four buildings are being constructed simultaneously as well as ground works for the commercial area.

“We are committed to deliver the project as promised,” said Las Marias.

Another SRP lot is part of a P25-billion joint venture agreement between Cebu City and Filinvest.

When asked if the lot covered by the joint venture agreement is the area identified for auction to the heirs of the Rev. Fr. Vicente Rallos, Las Marias replied, “It’s not what we are developing right now.”

Citta di Mare covers 50.6 hectares of prime land at the heart of SRP.

In a press release, Filinvest said if the city decides to pay the claim of the Ralloses, “it can do so with money, not real property.”

The company said it asserts its right to take legal action “to recoup from the Ralloses whatever damages their actions will affect Filinvest and its projects.”

In an interview, Osmeña warned that the city will lose P4 billion in revenue if the SRP lot is auctioned to pay the Ralloses.

He said Filinvest would find it difficult to sell their lots to any buyers.

“Many of their buyers will ask for their deposits back. The whole project will be jeopardized. Who would want to buy a condominium in an area with a pending court case?” he said.

Osmeña said the city has to allocate P133 million in the 2012 budget for the Rallos money claims.

Mayor Rama, however, said a fund allocation would be tantamount to an admission of defeat in the city’s court case against the Ralloses.

Osmeña said the allocation is insurance in case payment would have to be made if only to prevent garnishment of bank deposits and auction of SRP lots.

“Even if he (Rama) wins the case, the (Filinvest condominium) business will already be dead. This is bad. I just hope that the city council will stick together and see that we are getting into a very dangerous and disastrous situation,” he said.

Around 9.7 hectares of the SRP is up for public bidding in an auction, whose notices were posted in the Palace of Justice last week.

Court sheriff Eugenio Fuentes said the lot for sale is part of the joint venture agreement between ñCebu City and Filinvest.

The public auction is set from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 13, 2011 at the Sheriff’s Office located at the Palace of Justice in Cebu City.

Proceeds of the sale will be given to the Ralloses whose lot was expropriated for a road by the city government in 1963.

Among those who reportedly expressed interest in buying the lot is boxing champion Manny Pacquiao. /by Ador Vincent Mayol and Doris C. Bongcac

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