TIMELINE: Mile Long legal battle

Jodesz Gavilan

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TIMELINE: Mile Long legal battle
The decision of Sunvar Realty Development Corporation to vacate Mile Long property in Makati City ends a legal battle that has spanned two decades

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte took his tirades against the owners of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) to a new level when he focused on another issue involving the Prieto family. 

He accused the family of swindling” the government in relation with a 6.2-hectare Makati City property.

The Mile Long property, however, has been the subject of a long battle between the government and Sunvar Realty Development Corporation, a company owned by the Rufino and Prieto families since the early 2000s. 

What happened during those years? Rappler lays out the timeline based on court decisions, legal documents, and various reports.

JANUARY 1, 1978

The Technology Resource Center Foundation Incorporated (TRCFI) starts leasing the area after entering an agreement with the government. The contract is for a period of 25 years – until December 31, 2002 – was renewable upon the mutual agreement of the parties involved. 

FEBRUARY 17, 1987 

TRCFI is dissolved and replaced by the Philippine Development Alternatives Foundation (PDAF). 

MILE LONG. The area during the 1970s before Mile Long was built. Photo from Sunvar Realty Development Corporation


Sunvar Realty Development Corporationforges an agreement with TRCFI to lease a portion of the Makati property. The Prieto-owned company started with 1.3 hectares before eventually leasing a total of 2.9 hectares over the years. 

JUNE 13 AND 14, 2002  

Napocor and the government start communicating to PDAF (formerly TRCFI) the decision to not renew the lease when it ends on December 2002. 

PDAF relays tho Sunvar the decision not to renew the lease contract.

DECEMBER 31, 2002 

The original contract between PDAF and Napocor ends after 25 years. 

FEBRUARY 22, 2008 

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) advises Sunvar to “completely vacate” the Makati property within 30 days unless it wants to face legal sanctions. 

JANUARY 26, 2009

After Sunvar ignores the first order, OSG sends a “Final Notice to Vacate” within 15 days to the realty company. 

JULY 23, 2009

Napocor, through the OSG, files a case against Sunvar over its refusal to vacate the property. 

Instead of filing an answer after being summoned, Sunvar later files a motion to dismiss on the grounds that Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) Branch 67 of Makati City does not have jurisdiction over the matter.

MeTC Judge Rico Sebastian Liwanag denies the motion.

DECEMBER 8, 2009 

After Liwanag voluntarily recuses himself from the case, Judge Roberto Buenaventura of MeTC Branch 63 denies Sunvar’s motion to reconsider the September 16 decision ordering them to vacate Mile Long.

DECEMBER 10, 2010 

Branch 41 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City grants Sunvar’s petition for certiorari, setting aside the September 16 and December 8 decisions. It also dismisses the complaint for unlawful detainer originally filed by the government.

JUNE 20, 2012

The Supreme Court (SC) grants the government’s petition for review on certiorari, directing MeTC Branch 63 to proceed with the unlawful detainer case against Sunvar. 

The realty company files a motion for reconsideration but the High Court denies this with finality in October 2013.

FEBRUARY 20, 2015 

Sunvar files another motion to dismiss on the grounds of non-payment of docket fees by Napocor. NPC. Judge Barbara Briones denies the motion.

JUNE 10, 2015 

Briones orders Sunvar to vacate the Mile Long property and pay back rentals amounting to P478.2 million.  

The decision also states that the realty company has to pay the government a monthly rental of P3.2 million from June 2015 until they vacate the property.  

JUNE 30, 2015

Sunvar files an appeal before Makati RTC Branch 141 and a separate petition for injunction before Makati RTC Branch 59. Both appeals are consolidated in December 2015 under Branch 59. 

Judge Winlove Dumayas later issues a temporary restraining order (TRO) in favor of Sunvar. 

JANUARY 26, 2017 

The Court of Appeals (CA) rules that Branch 59 has no jurisdiction over Sunvar’s petition for injunction, remanding the case to Branch 141 under Judge Maryann Corpus-Manalac. 

JULY 1, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte accuses the Philippine Daily Inquirer of owing P8 billion in taxes over the Mile Long property. He was actually referring to the Rufino and Prieto families. 

JULY 17, 2017

Duterte threatens to turn the Mile Long property into socialized housing, further accusing the Prietos of “swindling” the government. 

“These newspaper owners, who do they think they are? The way they editorialize people in government saying they are thieves,” he says. “You have hostaged a government property for so long a time and collected the rentals there. That is swindling.”

JULY 19, 2017

CA affirms its January 2017 ruling that a Makati court has no jurisdiction to hear the petition for injunction filed by Sunvar. This puts the government ahead in the legal race as it already won an ejectment case in 2015.

JULY 28, 2017

Solicitor General Jose Calida demands that Sunvar vacate the property, saying that the Prietos “have used your newspaper, Philippine Daily Inquirer, to shield your shenanigans.”

AUGUST 2, 2017

Duterte warns the families who own the Inquirer he intends to sue them for “economic sabotage” for their continued use of the Mile Long property. 

He says he would not “allow” the Prietos and Rufinos to post bail so they can experience jail time like other criminals.

VACATE. Staff of a production company inside Mile Long property in Makati say they have begun packing up in compliance with the order to vacate personally served by Solicitor General Jose Calida. Photo by Lian Buan/Rappler

AUGUST 15, 2016

Calida personally serves the Notice to Vacate to tenants of the Mile Long property in Makati City. With him is a CA resolution dated August 14 authorizing the Makati RTC Branch 141 to execute a year-old vacate order.  

AUGUST 16, 2017

Sunvar Realty Development Corporation waves the white flag, saying that it will “comply and vacate Mile Long” as part of its commitment “to [abide] by the legal process.  

This leaves about 273 tenants with no choice but to pack their bags. – Rappler.com

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Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and impunity beats, producing in-depth and investigative reports particularly on the quest for justice of victims of former president Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs and war on dissent.