Gov’t seizes firm’s property in Misamis Oriental

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Thursday, March 7, 2013


THE government has taken over the 2.7-hectare property of Mindanao Steel Corporation in Lugait town, Misamis Oriental on Wednesday afternoon and ordered the town’s mayor to haul off his belongings and vacate the area.

Sheriff Ernesto Bustamante said Lugait Mayor Willie Lim has been using the property for his corn and milling business.

Bustamante said it was Lim’s wife Ofelia who inked a “sale agreement” with the Philippine National Bank (PNB) for the property’s ownership.

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CAGAYAN DE ORO. Law enforcers from the Lugait Police Station accompany Sheriff Ernesto S. Bustamante of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) in serving the court’s order to Lugait Mayor Willie Lim Wednesday. (Joey P. Nacalaban)

“They were assigned by PNB as caretaker of the property but the court found the ownership questionable. There was ‘conditional sale’ between them and PNB,” he said.

Mindanao Steel Corporation, maker of GI sheets, has declared bankruptcy and ceased operation in 2000, leaving its 101 workers jobless.

Bustamante said PNB has since foreclosed the property.

The members of Mindanao Steel Free Workers Union said after declaring bankruptcy, the company abandoned them and failed to give their benefits amounting to P21 million.

In 2001, the workers filed a case against the company and Bustamante said the court acted on their favor.

To pay off the workers, all of the company’s machines and equipment were seized in 2010 and were sold for P12 million.

Bustamante said the proceeds were initially paid to the workers.

“Next we will sell the structural buildings inside the property. The proceeds will also be given to the workers,” he said.

Mayor Lim refused to personally appear when Bustamante served the court’s order inside the company’s property Wednesday. Only his three children supervised the transfer of his belongings.

Leonardo Ello, who worked as production operator, tearfully said Wednesday he waited for this day to come, citing that he and his colleagues have waited for years just to get whatever is due them.

Ello said he worked for the company since 1978 but was terminated “without cause” in 2000.

“I am supposed to receive almost P300,000 as compensation,” he said. Bustamante said after Mayor Lim vacated the property, the workers will be left to maintain it.

“They can sleep there,” he said.

Personnel from the Lugait Police Station under Inspector Julius Saluta, station commander, will also be providing security in the area.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 07, 2013.

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