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Duterte tells Prieto-Rufino to vacate Makati property: I will treat you harshly

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The days when the owners of the Philippine Daily Inquirer can get away with doing what they want with nary a squeak from the government are numbered.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday (April 27) said he will deal with the Prietos “harshly” to ensure the return of the Creekside/Mile Long property in Makati City they have controlled for more than three decades.

In an interview in Malacañang after the bilateral meeting with Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Duterte noted that the Prietos have been making money out of the property while paying the government practically nothing.

“Number one itong mga Prieto, may-ari ng Inquirer, you can be sure that I will proceed with you harshly. Or return the property of the people which you got for… Magkano binayad niyo? Piso lang siguro. Really,” he said.

Duterte said the income from leasing the Mile Long property to tenants should be remitted to the national treasury since the Prietos’ lease contract had expired in 2002.

“May kaso diyan sa Ombudsman eh. And I urge the Ombudsman also to fast track the case because it is property owned by the people. By this time the income of that property should be going to the National Treasury. Habol lahat,” he said.

Aside from returning the Mile Long property to the government, Duterte said the Inquirer’s owners should also pay the government the P1.5 billion in taxes they owe over the operations of their Dunkin Donuts’ franchise in the Philippines.

Based on the estimate of former Arroyo-era Cabinet Secretary Rigoberto Tiglao, the Prietos, through their company Sunvar Real and Development Corporation, have earned P4 billion in profits from 1980 until 2016 from leasing commercial space at the 22.9-hectare prime property.

Tiglao said the lease contract for Mile Long was awarded to the Prietos during the Marcos administration.

While the Supreme Court has ordered the Prietos to pay the multibillion-peso dues they owe the government for controlling Mile Long beyond 2002, the family managed to maintain the status quo by resorting to legal technicalities.