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GSIS files eviction case against Sofitel operator

Date Posted: May 18, 2018
State pension fund Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) filed today an eviction suit against the Philippine Plaza Holdings, Inc. (PPHI), operator of Sofitel, at the Pasay City Regional Trial Court.

“We are filing this eviction suit against the operator of Sofitel because it is using two GSIS properties and earning from them without paying the owner. Our members and pensioners are at the losing end here being the real owners of the fund,” GSIS President and General Manager Jesus Clint Aranas said.

According to Aranas, the lots in question do not refer to the area where the hotel sits but to the two adjacent lots that PPHI is using for its operations without paying rentals. The two properties (Lots 19 and 41) have a combined area of 7,393 sq. m. At present, PPHI is using the two lots for its valet parking space, cistern tanks and cooling tower, tennis court, and other facilities.

“We are a fair lessor and we have to be treated fairly. But now that we have been abused for the longest time, we have no other recourse but to resort to legal means. We do not intend to disrupt the hotel’s operations until the court decides. We are not ejecting them forcefully – we are going through the legal process and we are doing this in good faith,” Aranas explained.

The pension fund filed the eviction case four days after the notice to vacate it issued to PPHI lapsed last May 14. GSIS explicitly referred to the notice as a final demand for Sofitel to vacate the lots in question within 30 days from the date of receipt and pay the rental, damages and “other charges from the use of the property before its turnover to the GSIS.

Instead of complying with the demand, PPHI, in a letter to GSIS, dismissed the notice as a mere invitation to sit down with the pension fund to clarify its position on the matter. PPHI enclosed a position paper in the letter containing a brief history of the lease agreement of the two parties and clarification of its stand on the issue.

“For a private hotel to utilize these lots for free is grossly disadvantageous to GSIS, to our members and pensioners who are the contributors to the fund, and to the public because the government should not tolerate this abuse. I really hope that the operator of Sofitel will reconsider its legal position,” Aranas said.