Edna G. Camcam: Her legal battle to regain North Forbes Park mansion

Published August 30, 2021, 4:55 PM

by Rey Panaligan 

Supreme Court (SC)

Remember banker Edna G. Camcam, the long-time partner of the late Gen. Fabian C. Ver who was the most trusted military officer of the late former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, and her legal battle to regain ownership of a mansion at the North Forbes Park in Makati City?

Her legal battle with Daniel E. Vasquez, a physician and Ver’s friend, is not yet over as it will go back to the trial court on orders of the Supreme Court (SC) in a decision made public last Aug. 24.

The SC decision, written by Associate Justice Henri Jean Paul B. Inting, granted Benjamin M. Bitanga and Camcam’s petition which challenged the Court of Appeals’ (CA) 2016 ruling that, in effect, upheld Vasquez’s ownership of the property on Cambridge Circle in North Forbes Park.

The CA’s ruling denied Camcam’s appeal as it affirmed the resolutions issued by the Makati City regional trial court (RTC) in 2013 rejecting her ownership of the lot and the mansion.

Records in previous cases showed that Camcam was the original owner of the property. She mortgaged the property when she secured a loan from the United Coconut Planters Bank. When she failed to pay her loan, the property was foreclosed and sold to Bitanga.

The same records showed that in 1994, Bitanga sold the property to Vasquez who allowed Camcam to stay rent-free on request of Ver. Later, Vasquez asked Camcam and her daughter to vacate the property but when the latter refused, he filed a case with the trial court.

The RTC granted Vasquez’s motion for summary judgment and declared him owner of the property.

The trial court noted that in Sept.1994, Camcam executed a legal document titled “Guaranty” admitting Vasquez as the owner of the property.

When Vasquez filed an ejectment case against Camcam, the latter filed a case for reconveyance with application for preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order.

After the RTC ruled against her, she appealed to the CA and pointed out that the disposition of the case was premature because she was seeking an amendment of her complaint and that there were genuine issues in the case necessitating a full-blown trial.

The CA denied her petition. It said the RTC did not commit in granting the plea for summary judgment since there was no injunction from the appellate court, in another petition, to stop the proceedings before the trial court pending the filing of an amendment.

On Aug. 28, 2014, however, the CA in the other petition reversed the RTC which denied Camcam’s motion to amend her complaint.

On her petition with the SC, Camcam said the CA’s 2016 ruling which, in effect, affirmed Vazquez’s ownership of the North Forbes Park mansion should be reversed and the case be remanded to the trial court for further proceedings.

Resolving the issue, the SC said:

“The petition has merit. In this petition, petitioners (Bitanga and Camcam) maintain that the supervening event, that is, the subsequent amendment of their complaint should have rendered the case moot.

“They aver that, at any rate, there exists genuine issues that are proper to be threshed out in a full-blown trial.

“Thus, they pray that the assailed CA ruling be reversed, and the RTC be ordered to set the case for trial and conduct further proceedings. As mentioned … the CA in CA-G.R. SP No. 129738 already allowed the amendment of petitioners’ complaint. Accordingly, it ordered the RTC to admit the amended complaint and ‘try’ the case.

“This CA decision was affirmed by the Court (SC) on Aug. 24, 2016, and it has already attained finality.

“The Rules on Civil Procedure provide that the amended complaint supersedes the complaint. Thus, the grant of the Motion for Summary Judgment, and even the Motion for Summary Judgment itself, have no leg to stand on, as they were both based on the superseded complaint.

“With this development, the Court ought to remand the case to the RTC which shall proceed with the case based on the amended complaint.

“WHEREFORE, the Decision dated Jan. 26, 2016 and the Resolution dated Sept. 16, 2016 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV. No. 103230 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The case is REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court for further proceedings. SO ORDERED.”