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Pampanga school faces relocation amid property dispute.

Will the Chevalier School here, which began as a seminary in 1960, continue to operate at its present site or relocate elsewhere?

Its fate rests on the result of negotiations between the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Fernando (RCASF), which owns the three-hectare property, and the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC), which has been renting the land.

The RCASF is recovering the property after it won a lawsuit with a church court in Rome allowing it to rescind a contract of lease with MSC because the Sacred Heart Mission Seminary Inc. (SHMSI) had ceased to exist and the seminary had been closed before 1972.

P1 a year

In an Oct. 31, 1958 contract, the diocese, through Bishop Emilio Cinense, leased the land to the SHMSI, represented by Fr. Cornelio Lagerwey for 99 years at P1 a year.

According to the contract, the land, buildings and improvements there shall be 'exclusively used and dedicated to Catholic education and instruction.'

MSC fathers said the original contract remained valid for the next 41 years because the SHMSI was only renamed Chevalier Inc. after the founder, Fr. Jules Chevalier, in 1978.

In place of the seminary was a regular school that accepted Grades 5 and 6 pupils in 1976, offered complete elementary in 1987 and opened kindergarten and prep classes in 1991. In recent years, it accepted girls.

Protest

On Saturday, the Chevalier School-Sacred Heart Seminary Alumni Community and Parents-Teachers Association protested the talks and opposed a reported plan to lease the 4,961 square-meter soccer field to a fast-food company for P1 million a month.

The school is located in a commercial area where development in the Pampanga capital, City of San Fernando, has spilled over. The groups said relocation was not an option for them.

'We are aware that there will be some bargaining between the RCASF and MSC. It is our hope that MSC fathers will not 'sell out' our beloved alma mater,' said Victor Joaquin Tanglao, convenor of the Concerned Alumni Core Group.

Fr. Archimedes Tapang, the school's rector, declined to reveal the counteroffer from MSC in the talks.

Institution

'Apparently, they (RCASF) are displacing a Catholic institution and a landmark,' Tanglao said.

Church officials could not be reached for comment. Archbishop Florentino Lavarias has gone on a pastoral visit. The vicar general, Fr. Francis Dizon, attended a canonization rite. The RCASF legal counsel declined to speak until he was given permission by the church.

To support its programs, the RCASF has been trying to maximize the few properties left to it or acquiring back some lots it had lent for free. The RCASF's agricultural lands were distributed under the government's agrarian reform program or were damaged by the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruptions and lahar flows.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Nov 24, 2016
Words:529
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