MANILA, Philippines – The Quezon City (QC) government on Tuesday took over the 7-hectare property of the Manila Seedling Foundation, Inc. (MSFI), claiming that the latter failed to pay some P40 million pesos in real property taxes.
Elements of the Department of Public Order and Safety (DPOS) and local police swooped into the compound located at the corner of EDSA and Quezon Avenue in the so-called QC North Triangle.
City hall personnel proceeded to padlock the multiple gates of Manila Seedling and restricted the entry of vehicles in the area.
Roger Cuaresma, officer-in-charge of the Security and Intelligence Division of DPOS QC, said the take-over was peaceful and that MSFI management offered no resistance.
"Operation is normal, nakakapasok pa naman ‘yung mga customers. ‘Yun nga lang, hindi na namin pinapayagan ‘yung pagpasok ng bagong items. So far, walang order to vacate the premises," says Cuaresma.
Lucito Bertol, Chairman and President of MSFI, is angry at Mayor Herbert Bautista for what he describes as a "totalitarian" take-over. He says the QC government has unilaterally evicted them from the property without an order from the court.
"We have been here for 35 years, ngayon lang nagkaroon ng problema. The truth is, we don't own the land, but we were given a right to use it through Proclamation 1670 in 1977. The land belongs to the National Housing Authority, which was later bought by the QC government in a public auction kung saan sila lang ang bidder, can you believe? We don't owe them any real property taxes," says Bertol.
Bertol also laments the possible fate of the Manila Seedling, one of the few pockets of greenery in the area, if city hall succeeds in taking over. The property is situated in the Quezon City Central Business District (CBD), identified by the city as its future commercial hub.
"Huwag naman ganito, Mayor Herbert Bautista. Ipaglalaban talaga namin ‘yung lugar. Kasi dapat nga maging proud tayo dito," says Bertol.
MSFI says they are already preparing their legal action to resist the take over of the QC government.
ABS-CBN News tried to get in touch with Mayor Herbert Bautista, but he is still unavailable as of posting.