SC orders Pasig RTC to proceed with trial of Lee’s Globe Asiatique, Filmal Realty Corp.

By , on August 25, 2014

Delfin Lee. Photo from PNP PIO
Delfin Lee. Photo from PNP PIO

MANILA — The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the Pasig City Regional Trial Court (RTC) to continue with the proceedings against Delfin Lee’s Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corporation and Filmal Realty Corporation in connection with a loan worth more than Php 1 billion with the Philippine National Bank (PNB).

In a decision written by Associate Justice Martin Villarama, the SC granted the petition filed by Aida Padilla as it ordered the Pasig City RTC to proceed with the presentation of evidence in support of the compulsory counterclaim of the petitioner.

“The Orders dated November 12, 2012 and May 8, 2013 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 155 in [the Civil Case] are hereby reversed and set aside…” the SC ruling said.

Concurring with the ruling were Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. Aranal Sereno and Associate Justices Lucas Bersamin, Bienvenido Reyes and Jose Catral Mendoza.

Records of the case showed that from 2005 to 2008, the PNB entered into several Contracts to Sell (CTS) Facility Agreements with respondents Globe Asiatique and Filmal represented by Delfin S. Lee and Dexter L. Lee, president and vice president, respectively, of the two corporations.

The PNB agreed to make available to Globe Asiatique and Filmal CTS Facility in the amount not exceeding Php 200 million to finance the purchase of certain Accounts Receivables or the in-house installment receivables of the respondents stemming from the sale of subdivision houses in their real estate/housing projects as evidenced by contracts to sell.

These availments were later increased to a total amount of Php 1.2 billion.

Pursuant to and as a condition for the CTS Facility availments, the respondents executed in favor of PNB several Deeds of Assignment covering accounts receivables in the aggregate amount of Php 1,195,926,390.72.

In the instruments, the respondents acknowledged the total amount of Php 1,395,665,564.69 released to them by the PNB in consideration of the accounts receivables.

In the first quarter of 2010, the respondents defaulted in the payment of their outstanding balance and delivery to the PNB of transfer certificates of title corresponding to the assigned accounts receivables, for which the PNB declared them in default under the CTS Facility Agreements.

Subsequently, the respondents made partial payments and made proposals for paying in full its obligation to the PNB as shown in the exchange of correspondence between the respondents and the PNB.

On Aug. 5, 2010, the PNB made a formal and final demand upon the respondents to pay the total amount of Php 974,377,159.10 representing their outstanding obligation.

In the course of credit monitoring and verification, the PNB claimed it discovered 231 out of 240 Contracts to Sell to have either inexistent addresses of buyers or the names of the buyers are non-existent or both.

The case eventually reached the RTC.

In their complaint against Judge Pedro De Leon Gutierrez and Padilla, the respondents claimed that Globe Asiatique and Filmal are well-known and successful real estate developers whose projects were “being continuously supported by various banks and other financial institutions prior to the malicious and devastating unfounded civil action” filed by Padilla which wrought havoc to their businesses and lives.

The respondents alleged that these were already novated by the parties who agreed upon a term loan starting May 31, 2010 and to expire on April 30, 2012.

Despite her knowledge of such novation and that the obligation was not yet due and demandable, Padilla with malice and evident bad faith still executed a “perjured” affidavit in support of the application for writ of preliminary attachment before the Pasay City RTC.

This prompted Padilla to file her counterclaims, saying that her answer before the Pasig City RTC is compulsory, alleging suffering and injury caused to her as a consequence of the unwarranted filing of the baseless complaint by the respondents.

The RTC dismissed her counterclaim upon the same ground of lack of jurisdiction as its resolution supposedly would entail passing upon the validity of orders and processes still pending before the Pasay City RTC.

Padilla elevated the case to the SC.

She argued that the SC has jurisdictional competence and authority to resolve her counterclaims notwithstanding the dismissal of the complaint dated Aug. 10, 2011 for violation of the principle of judicial stability.

The SC said “the RTC of Pasig City should have allowed petitioner’s counterclaim to proceed notwithstanding the dismissal of respondents’ complaint, the same being compulsory in nature and with its cause not eliminated by such dismissal.”

“It bears stressing that petitioner was hailed to a separate court (Pasig City RTC) even while the dispute between PNB and respondents was still being litigated, and she already incurred expenses defending herself, having been sued by respondents in her personal capacity,” the SC said.

“The accusations hurled against her were serious (perjury and misrepresentation in executing the affidavit in support of the application for writ of attachment before the Pasay City RTC) – with hints at possible criminal prosecution apart from that criminal complaint already lodged in the Pasig City Prosecutor’s Office,” it added.

“The Pasig City RTC clearly erred in refusing to hear the counterclaims upon the same ground for dismissal of the complaint, i.e., lack of jurisdiction in strict observance of the policy against interference with the proceedings of a co-equal court,” the SC said.

“Ironically, while it is the respondents who erroneously and maliciously asked the Pasig City RTC to pass upon these issues still pending in a co-equal court, for which reason the said court dismissed their complaint, petitioner was not allowed to prove her counterclaim by reason of the unfounded suit in the same case as purportedly it will entail verifying respondents’ claim that they were prejudiced by the orders and processes in the Pasay City RTC. This situation exemplifies the rationale in Perkin Elmer Singapore Pte Ltd. on requiring the petitioner to make the counterclaim in the present action, under threat of losing such right to claim the same ever again any other court, yet make such right of the petitioner totally dependent on the fate of the respondents’ complaint,” it added.