Manila lower court denies Benitez’s petition for PWU rehab

A LOWER court in Manila has junked the petition of the Benitez family to place the Philippine Women’s University (PWU) in involuntary rehabilitation.

STI Education Systems Holdings Inc., led by the Tanco group, said with the dismissal of the petition filed by Dr. Helena Benitez, the chairman of PWU, the company can now move for the foreclosure of all the major real- estate assets of PWU and Unlad Resources Development Corp., the corporate vehicle of the Benitez family that has control over the school’s ownership.

“With the outright dismissal of the rehabilitation case, the petition[s] dated 18 February 2015 initiated by the company against PWU and Unlad for the extrajudicial foreclosure of the real-estate mortgages over their Quezon City and Davao properties can proceed in order to satisfy PWU and Unlad’s unpaid loan obligations to the company in the amount of P926,146,885.86 as of December 7, 2014,” STI said in its disclosure.

Last week Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 46 junked the petition of Benitez to place the school in corporate rehabilitation as a move to stop STI from liquidating all of its school assets as payment of its unpaid loans.

“The petition is a sham filing intended to delay the enforcement of the rights of creditors. The Rehabilitation Court questioned the right of Benitez as an alleged creditor to file the petition considering that she [a] is the ‘brand name, epitome and embodiment’ of PWU; [b] has unsubstantiated claims; and [c] claims against PWU are for personal expenses,” the court said.

“The Rehabilitation Court was convinced that the petition was executed for the primary purpose of delaying the enforcement of the rights of the company as creditor,” the decision, penned by presiding judge Ranielda Estacio-Montesa, said.

PWU claims that its property in Manila, Quezon City and Davao are valued at around P1.5 billion including land in Jose Abad Santos Memorial School in Quezon City and the PWU campus in Taft Avenue, Manila, the facility being foreclosed by STI.

“We are raising the money to settle our obligations to Tanco. When STI issued its illegal declaration of default last December, it was based on an unreasonable demand that we settle P923 million in seven days.

These are the kind of unacceptable terms that hinder efforts to reach an amicable settlement,” the Benitez family said in an earlier statement.

In 2011 the Tanco group bought PWU’s debt from BDO worth about P223 million and lent the school P26.5 million and Unlad an additional P198 million.

As a result of the loan take out, the Benitez family entered a separate agreement with the Tanco group of STI to raise the authorized capital of Unlad to P1.5 billion within a month in order to convert STI loans into equity, which, in effect, was how the publicly listed company will be paid by getting 40 percent of Unlad.

The Benitez family, however, failed to increase Unlad’s capitalization on taxation issues, while its debts remain unpaid.

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