CA grants Manila Times College of Subic’s injunction plea versus Subic Freeport ouster
The Court of Appeals (CA) has granted the petition of The Manila Times College of Subic, Inc., for an injunction to stop the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) from repossessing its leased property in the freeport.
In a recent 13-page decision, the CA 9th Division set aside the July 25, 2018 order of Olongapo City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 75 Judge Raymond Viray rejecting the college’s plea for a writ of preliminary injunction (WPI).
The WPI would stop the SBMA from repossessing the Cubi Hospital Complex at the Subic Freeport until the RTC has resolved the dispute concerning alleged unpaid rentals.
The RTC refused to issue a WPI on the ground that The Manila Times College failed to establish a “clear and unmistakable” right that needed protection.
It cited the testimony of SBMA Senior Deputy Administrator for Support Services Ramon Agregado, who said the buildings where classes were held would not immediately be covered by repossession.
The CA, however, said the college paid the uncontested rental, giving it the right over the property under the lease agreement with the original lessee, Subic Bay Medical Center, Inc. (SBMCI).
It said the dispute over the proper amount of rentals was “not sufficient to defeat the petitioner’s right in esse over the leased property,” especially since the validity of the agreement was not in question.
“The petitioner had in its favor a property right, of which it cannot be deprived without due process. It possesses sufficient interest in the
property sought to be protected,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Apolinario Bruselas, Jr.
The CA said SBMA’s unilateral rescission of the lease agreement was “manifestly prejudicial to the petitioner’s interest and constitutes material and substantial invasion of its right.”
“Unless the status quo is preserved, the petitioner stands to lose its main asset in its business operations even without the benefit of a trial,” the decision read.
The court also pointed out that “the damage to the petitioner’s business standing is irreparable injury” that an injunction would avoid.
The main dispute concerned SBMA’s demand to be paid P22.13 million and US$746,306.32. The Manila Times College only paid the uncontested P8.94-million portion, plus P3.98 million in interest.
The SBMA included the previous obligation of SBMCI, but The Manila Times College argued that its agreement freed it from any claims arising from its predecessor’s assignment of its lease rights. The SBMA rejected the said clause.