By Louis “Barok” Biraogo
Atty. Ramon Maronilla, the president of the City of Malabon University, is very upset with Banco de Oro (BDO), particularly the Malabon branch office of BDO along Rizal Avenue Extension in his city.
The BDO branch building stands on a large lot along Rizal Avenue Extension in the commercial district of the city. Directly behind the bank is an empty lot owned by Atty. Maronilla.
Rizal Avenue Extension is accessible from this back lot only by a narrow right-of-way taken from the lot on which the BDO structure is located.
This right-of-way, including its metes and bounds, is annotated on the title of the lot on which the BDO structure was erected.
Legally speaking, the back lot owned by Maronilla is called the dominant estate, while the lot on which the BDO structure stands is called the servient estate.
Under the law, the owner of the servient estate must honor the right-of-way easement which the owner of the dominant estate is entitled to. Thus put, the owner of the servient estate should not construct anything within the right-of-way, or cause any obstruction on it that may impede its use by the owner of the dominant estate.
According to Maronilla, measurements taken on the existing easement show that part of the BDO structure occupies a sizeable portion of the right-of-way, and that this intrusion by the servient estate into the dominant estate makes it very difficult for Maronilla’s vehicle to use the right-of-way.
It also appears from photographs taken of the area that BDO constructed a large electric signage which likewise partially blocked the right-of-way, and that a part of the easement is being used as a parking space for motorcycle-riding customers of the bank.
Maronilla has formally requested the BDO branch officers to clear the right-of-way of all obstructions on it, at the expense of the bank. BDO, however, denies that their servient estate encroached on the right-of-way.
Inevitably, Maronilla filed a case against BDO in the Regional Trial Court of Malabon. It appears that in an attempt to settle the case, the bank offered Maronilla an amount of money. Maronilla, however, turned down the offer because he will end up with a virtually unusable right-of-way, and a useless back lot.
So far, the three options available to BDO are to reconstruct part of its building and dismantle the obstacles it constructed along the right-of-way, or to pay damages to Maronilla, or buy Maronilla’s dominant estate.
An engineer consulted by Maronilla says the amount BDO will spend to reconstruct the building and to remove the obstacles on the right-of-way is far more than the amount BDO offered to Maronilla.
Since parking space in the area is a serious problem and city sidewalks are being cleared of parked vehicles and obstructions by the city government, BDO could readily use the back lot as parking space for its clients.
Like all big banks, BDO can well afford a protracted litigation. Protracting the litigation, however, is tantamount to bullying a single individual with limited resources. That will not be good for the corporate image of BDO.
Meanwhile, Maronilla wants BDO to explain why the title to the lot on which its branch along Rizal Avenue Extension is erected still remains in the name of the Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank. Observers suspect that the title has not been transferred to BDO to avoid transfer taxes.
The same observers believe that if Henry Sy, Sr., who established BDO in 1976, were still alive today, he will not allow the problem to reach this far.
Word has it that a popular funeral parlor based in Malabon is interested in purchasing the back lot from Maronilla as part of its expansion plans. If the price is right, Maronilla is willing to sell it to the funeral parlor. Only a few small details need to be ironed out before the parlor will formalize its offer. (Ismael Amigo/Currentph.com)