By Dolly Yasa
BACOLOD City – A businessman and his sister are pursuing their ownership claim over a parcel of land in Sicogon Island in Carles, Iloilo province believed to be part of the 809-hectare landholding being developed by Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) and Sicogon Development Corporation (Sideco) under a joint venture agreement.
Patrick Miguel Montilla and his sister Tizza said that they are not against the development in Sicogon Island as all they want is to regain ownership of the land they inherited from their father.
In a press conference on Sunday, the Montillas expressed dismay at how their 2.9-hectare property on the island seemed to have “disappeared into thin air”.
Patrick Miguel is the judicial administrator and heir of the intestate estate of their father, the late Enrique Montilla Jr.
An intestate estate means that the decedent or deceased owner did not leave a will and the probate court will determine the distribution of his or her property to heirs according to a priority statute.
Joining the Montilla siblings in the press conference were their lawyers Christine Espinosa, Gerry Llena and Jubert Katalbas.
Patrick Miguel warned persons or entities who may want to acquire lots on the island saying that their property claim is currently in court.
He said he is not stopping anyone from buying lots on the island, but he is just letting them know of the case to avoid future problems.
The siblings also recalled that there were efforts to buy them out of their property before, which indicates that they are being acknowledged as owners of the 2.9-hectare property of their father, as manifested in the land title where their late father’s name is indicated.
Both also recalled the time they spent on Sicogon Island when their father was still alive.
Patrick Miguel said he even informed Ayala Land of their property claim before any development took place.
Atty. Llena believes they have a strong case.
“It’s a very, very strong case. All the ingredients of ownership under the law are there. This is not only fighting for the legacy of their parents, this is exercising basic ownership rights.”
Daily Guardian is still trying to reach Ayala Land and Sideco for comments.
The Montillas also asked the regional director of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Housing (DHSUD) in Region 6 to look into the application for a certificate of registration and license to sell of the developer in Sicogon Island amid the pending ownership case in court.
In a letter addressed to DHSUD-6 head Eva Maria P. Marfil and dated January 27, 2023, Patrick Miguel Montilla said the application might affect their ownership claim.
He said the property is currently the subject of a pending application for a certificate of registration and license to sell with DHSUD-6 and an ongoing case before the Regional Trial Court Branch 71 in Barotac Viejo, Iloilo docketed as Civil Case No. 22-1358.
Montilla said the subject of his letter-complaint is Lot A-7 covered by Title No. T-090-2022004361 currently registered in the name of SITEC (Sicogon Island Tourism Estate Corporation).
He said the property is subject to a pending case for Injunction and Annulment of Title on the ground that “the consolidation and issuance of T-090-2022004361 covering Lot A-7 in the name of SITEC is illegal and/ or invalid for having been transferred without knowledge and consent of his late father, Enrique A. Montilla who has ownership rights over a 2.9-hectare unidentified portion on the property and recorded as T-80191, the source or trace title from which T-090-2022004361 originated.”
Montilla pointed out that as reflected on the face of the title T-090-2022004361 is a transfer from T-80191, registered in the name of SIDECO (Sicogon Development Corporation) with a condition annotated on the face of the same title that “a portion of 2.9 hectares is the property of Enrique A. Montilla and the same shall be identified as Lot A-5 in the proposed subdivision plan.”
“Such ownership of my father can be traced back as far as 1957, however, up to this writing of this letter, the actual location of the 2.9 hectares has not been properly identified. In other words, until the location of the 2.9 hectares acquired by my father way back in 1957 is properly identified by competent authority his ownership is ‘spiritual’ and such portion can be anywhere on the island,” Montilla told DHSUD-6.
Montilla claimed that SITEC and SIDECO “committed an actionable wrong when they entered into a Deed of Absolute Sale of the entire property covered by T-80191 including the 2.9 hectares owned by his father without his knowledge or consent or that of his heirs.”
He further said that “the cancellation of T-80191 and the subsequent issuance of 12 new titles in lieu thereof was in violation of the ownership rights of Enrique Montilla which is the subject of Civil Case no. 22-1358.”
“I respectfully requested your good office and person to look into the application of Registration and License to Sell by SITEC affecting Lot A-7 covered by T-090-2022004361 in view of the fact that the said title (T-090-2022004361 covering Lot A-7) is the subject of a pending case for annulment of Title and injunction which I have filed against Ayala Land Inc., SIDECO and SITEC, precisely in order to restrain SITEC from selling lots to the public until the 2.9 hectares that was acquired by my father and annotated in the title has been properly identified and segregated to avoid further conflict with future buyers,” Montilla said in the letter.