STI, Benitez family end squabble over PWU.
Byline: Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
AFTER over a year of legal battle, the Benitez family and STI group ended their feud over Philippine Women's University (PWU) and its basic education arm Jose Abad Santos Memorial School (JASMS).
Under the deal, PWU will remain under the control of the Benitez family but the family will give up in favor of STI certain assets of Unlad Resources Development Corp.: the property in Quezon City where JASMS currently operates as well as a separate property in Davao.
In a joint statement disclosed by STI Holdings to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Friday, the Benitez family and STI said they had settled their differences through a dacion en pago or payment-in-kind arrangement of these assets of Unlad.
Under the terms of the agreement, JASMS will remain on the Quezon City campus along EDSA until the end of school year 2017 after which it will be moved to a new location.
PWU, on the other hand, will retain its Manila campuses on Taft Avenue and Indiana Street in Manila.
At the same time, representatives of STI- which is led by businessman Eusebio Tanco - will resign from PWU, allowing the Benitez family to consolidate control of this educational institution.
PWU president Francisco Benitez described the settlement as a mandate to rebuild PWU and JASMS while remaining true to the educational legacy of our founders.
Benitez said talks were underway to open new campuses outside Metro Manila in time for PWU's centennial celebration in 2019.
In end-2014, STI and the Benitez group wrestled for control of PWU following disagreements over a three-year old joint venture. STI afterwards moved to take over a controlling stake in PWU, citing the Benitez group's failure to meet obligations under a cooperation deal forged in 2011. STI previously initiated extra-judicial foreclosure proceedings against PWU covering its Taft Ave. and Indiana St. campuses in Manila, the Jose Abad Santos Memorial School campus on EDSA, Quezon City and another property in Davao City.
But from the point of view of the Benitez family, when STI took over its loans, the latter had agreed to waive all interests, thereby challenging the loan default declared by STI in court.