6 building owners: Capitol can’t force us to pay rent

SIX building owners along Osmeña Boulevard in Cebu City have protested the Cebu Provincial Government’s charging of rent, calling it “unconstitutional,” and appealed for the withdrawal of the rent worth millions of pesos that the Capitol intends to collect for the years 2014 to 2023.

The Provincial Government plans to collect rent from 11 establishments that it said have been encroaching on Capitol-claimed strips of land along the boulevard’s sidewalk.

“I’ll see them in court,” said Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, who did not seem happy with the protest as reported by Capitol-run media site Sugbo News.

Of the 11, only six owners protested the imposed rent, which totaled P48.02 million among them.

These were lawyer Cornelio Mercado, representing the CAO Mercado Building; Adoracion Leaño, representing the Suarez Brothers; Dr. Potenciano SD Larrazabal III, representing the Cebu Doctors’ Hospital and Cebu Doctors’ University; Josefa Gorordo Revilles, representing Anita’s; Luz Filipinas San Pedro, representing the Suarez & Sons Building and ZR & DC Building; and Belina Yap, representing, Medical Imports and Mackim Prints.


According to the Computed Annual Raw Land Lease Rates for 2014 to 2023, which the Capitol released to the affected structure owners, here are the rent amounts owed by those who sent the protest letter dated April 25, 2023 but received by the Office of the Governor only on May 3, 2023:

* Suarez Brothers – P1.47 million

* Cebu Doctors’ Hospital – P19.49 million

* Cebu Doctors’ University – P3.09 million

* Anita’s – P4.29 million

* Suarez and Sons Building – P543,342.66

* ZR & DC Building – P12.34 million

* Medical Imports – P2.56 million

* Mackim Prints – P175,629.27

* CAO Mercado Building – P4.22 million

The document also stated that the raw land lease rate per square meter of the Capitol-claimed property rose from P293.15 in 2014 to P400 in 2023, an average of P11.80 increase per year.

Of the establishments, Cebu Doctors’ Hospital had the largest encroachment of up to 491.92 square meters, while Mackim Prints had the least encroachment at only 4.4 square meters, according to the document.


The six owners said in their protest letter that the Provincial Government conferring on itself the title of the lessor is “taking of the building owners’ property without due process of law infringing the fundamental right enshrined in the Consitution.”

The letter also said the action of the government is “unconstitutional and void” as this was an “intrusion, interfering with, disturbing, and limiting the building owners’ right over their property.”

Mercado, legal representative of the six building owners, told SunStar Cebu that a leasor-lessee relationship must be a consensual and bilateral contract, and cannot be forced upon by an institution, even the Provincial Government.

“Our protest is based on the law and jurisprudence. These are issues that can squarely be treated,” said Mercado Thursday, May 11, 2023.

“Our request is to just nullify the demanded rent,” he added.

The lawyer noted that the rent was unilaterally imposed and that they had not signed any agreement with the Capitol yet.

When asked what the camp would do if the Capitol takes the issue to court, Mercados said they will respond appropriately.

“This is a threatened suit, so we will cross the bridge when we get there,” he said.

Demand letter

The “offended” governor has ordered demand letters to be sent to the establishments that signed the protest letter.

The Capitol media only referred to four structure owners including Cebu Doctors’ Hospital, Anita’s Bakeshop, Suarez and Sons and Medical Imports. It is unclear if the other building owners will be sent demand letters as well.

The governor reportedly pulled the offered deal, which would have given the structure owners more lenient paying terms that included deflated rates of rent from 2014 to 2023.

The Capitol said it was the one being deprived of its property and that the letter contained false accusations.

The letter, which was deemed to be in bad faith, prompted the government to demand payment with interest from those who signed it.