By Raïssa Robles
Cash from a defense lawyer of Chief Justice Renato Corona could enable Demetrio Vicente to transfer to his name a valuable property that remains in the name of the chief magistrate’s wife 22 years after buying it from her.
Private lawyer Ramon Esguerra told me in an exclusive interview:
Personally, I’m willing to advance money to him (Vicente) if he asks my help. I hope you don’t misquote me.
Before I continue, I need to place Esguerra’s generous cash offer in context. His statement was in reply to my question whether he would be willing to give Vicente some form of legal aid to help him overcome his financial difficulties especially after his stroke.
Vicente, during his testimony this week, had said that his 3,114-square meter property remains to this day in Cristina Corona’s name because he did not have P200,000 in cash with which to pay the transfer tax and the accumulated penalties for its non-payment.
The prosecution insists that the sale was simulated and the lot really belongs to the Corona couple since it remains in the wife’s name to this day.
Among the grounds cited for Corona’s impeachment was that he did not list all the pieces of property he really owns in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) as required by the Constitution and the law.
I was surprised by Esguerra’s reply when he said:
If he (Vicente) asks my help – financial or otherwise or legal, I’m willing to help him. I have a few assistants who will help him do that. And I’m willing to advance the money for the transfer tax.
You write that because I’m known to be very, very helpful, that’s why I’m here with the Chief Justice (defending him).
Please note: I did my interview with Esguerra way before ABS-CBN uploaded the article of Ron Gagalac quoting Vicente as saying that he was thinking of selling the property and/or putting the title in his name. See – Corona’s cousin is selling Marikina property
Cash would not be a problem for Vicente
Repaying Atty Esguerra would not be a problem for Vicente, according to my architect-friend Bobbie Santos. Bobbie expressed to me his concern over the physical health and money difficulties of Vicente who, he pointed out, owns property worth P34 milllion but says he is too cash poor to afford the P200,000 to transfer tax to put the land in his name.
All he has to do, Bobbie told me, is to sell off 500 square meters of his 3,400 square meter property.
He calculated that at the prevailing market price in that area of P10,000 per square meter, instantly, Vicente will have P5 million in cash – or more than enough to pay the transfer tax as well as a fee to Atty Esguerra for the use of his money and legal services .
Bobbie noted that Vicente “can already sit pretty for the rest of his life,” given his monthly cash expenses of around P25,000 a month.
Using Bobbie’s calculation, I came up with the following extrapolation of Vicente’s cash requirements:
The balance of P4.8 million (minus payment of the P200,000 transfer tax) would be enough for Vicente’s living expenses for 192 months or 16 years, assuming he continues to spend P25,000 monthly. With this cash windfall, his daughter who is working overseas could even come home and be with him and maybe start a business.
Bobbie advised Vicente to do this quickly since the only legal document he holds – the Absolute Deed of Sale signed by him and Cristina Corona – has turned out to be not so legal after all. But more on that later.
Architect notes Vicente’s problem is common
Bobbie noted that Vicente’s predicament in not having the title to the Marikina property in his name happens more often than we think. This happens, for instance, when the title remains in the name of a deceased parent.
The problem is not lack of cash but lack of know how and perhaps procrastination.
The problem arises if any of the children decides to sell his “parcel” and in the process ends up selling the entire estate without the knowledge of his other siblings.
Bobbie said the aunt of his own wife Lennie experienced this and lost the land in a court case. This was despite the fact that his wife’s aunt was all the while paying the “amilyar” (realty tax) on the property for over 20 years and had receipts to show for it.
Therefore, Bobbie said, the best way Vicente can ensure that he can bequeath the rest of the land to his only child without any legal hitch is to generate some cash now and transfer the title to his name or perhaps his child’s name.
Architect wonders if Vicente can really transfer the title to his name even if he has the cash
Bobbie expressed the hope that Vicente is indeed the real owner of the property and not just a “dummy”.
I asked him whether one needed to be holding an Absolute Deed of Sale in order to build a house on a lot. Bobbie said that from his experience as an architect, local government units issue building permits even to those who only show proof of payment of the real property tax.
He said that insofar as the construction industry is concerned, a Deed of Sale was merely “a typewritten agreement between you and me. And in order for that to be binding on both, it has to be notarized by a notary public.”
He said that from his practical knowledge as an architect, this document only becomes critical should the original seller lay claim to it, or someone else is able to annotate the title with his own name without the real buyer’s consent.