Thursday, November 21, 2013

Turkish Ambassador should learn the meaning of respect

We are a poor country. But it does not mean that foreigners would just frown upon our laws. It does not follow that if you're an ambassador, you can just disrespect the laws of your host country because you cannot be sued anyway. As they say, treat others as you want others to treat you. that is the universal law of good conduct and right manners. This beautiful gesture is being practiced throughout the world, regardless of one's nationality. Unlike in the Medieval ages, today, peoples from all over the world treat each other with equality and civility. But, not with Hatice Pinar Isik---Turkey's representative here in the Philippines. She, of all people, probably thinks that we, Filipinos, are beneath her. Well, frankly, I do understand if Isik is unfamiliar with democratic and liberal ways of resolving disputes. Some say that Isik was probably raised in very difficult circumstances in Turkey that she does not know how to respect someone else property rights. What am I saying? Well, some of my friends think that the demeanor of Isik is really not expected from a diplomat of her age, and of course, we, ordinary citizens, perceive diplomats having been trained on the Arts of Diplomacy, would always, always act in decorum. In Isik's case, it is the opposite. Isik does not respect the Philippine's property laws and certainly, not of our courts! Here is the thing. Let me tell you why I am writing this against Turkey's ambassador to the Philippines. I am writing this because I want to show my Turkish friends that (1) their ambassador is an embarrassment to the Turkish community here in the Philippines and (2) this ambassador does not know what's the real meaning of the term "amicable settlement" Diplomats of all shapes and sizes enjoy one thing---immunity from suits while residing in a host country. Generally, diplomats cannot be sued if they commit a despicable crime against criminal and civil laws of their host country under the principle that the laws of the host country may be dissimilar with that of the home country. Respect is a generally accepted term in the international community. Meaning, yes, as an Ambassador you cannot be sued but please do have the civility of respecting someone's property rights. For Isik, even in civil law, she cannot be made to abide by the rules of the host country. What am I saying here? People from the diplomatic corps are talking about how Hatice Pinar Isik, Turkish representative to the Philippines, refuses to honor the property rights of the legitimate owners of a mansion at Cambridge Circle in North Forbes park in Makati. Inspite of the Supreme Court's decision that settled the ownership issue of the house and lot sited in no. 82 Cambridge Circle in North Forbes park, Isik refuses to budge. In the case of this disputed property, an international law expert says that although Isik cannot be charged with violating civil rights, her continued refusal to respect the property laws of the Philippines, may affect her career and is an embarrassment to her and her home country. The Turkish residence sits at a multi-million mansion which was part of the intestate of the late Beatriz S. Silverio who died in 1987. On 16 September 2010, the son of Ricky Silverio Sr, Ricky Jr, executed a Deed of Sale from the Intestate estate of his mother, Beatriz with Monica Ocampo. A transfer certificate of title (TCT no. 006-2011000050 ) was issued in favor of Monica Ocampo on the 23rd of December 2010. When the administrators of the estate got wind of the Turkish Ambassador’s interest in renewing the rental of the property, the administrators wrote a series of letters to Isik dated August 19, 2010, 13 September 2010 and 11 October 2010 asking the Turkish representative not to negotiate with Ricky Silverio Sr., but rather the the Administrator of the estate since the property formed part of the estate of his late wife. These letters were ignored and instead, the Turkish Embassy, represented by Isik, entered into a new lease contract with Silverio Sr. The said illegal contract states that the Turkish embassy can occupy and rent the property from December 2010 to 30 November 2014. On 1 February 2011, Ocampo eventually sold the property to Zee2 Resources, Inc. and a subsequent TCT was issued to Zee2 Resources, Inc.. Twenty days later, Zee2 Resources wrote letters to Turkish Ambassador Isik asking her politely to vacate the property and turnover the mansion to the property’s legitimate owner, Zee2 Resources, Inc. Isik refused to honor the appeals of the legitimate owner. Two years later and in spite of a Court of Appeals order dated 8 March 2013 (CA GR SP No. 122024) which ratified the sale between Ocampo and Zee2 Resources, Isik continued to ignore the requests of the new owner. A Motion for Reconsideration filed by Silverio Sr was denied by the Court of Appeals on 4 July 2013. Having settled the legality on the ownership of the said property, Zee2 Resources asked help from the Department of Foreign Affairs. Last August 7, 2013, officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs Offices of Protocol, Legal and European Affairs met with a representative from the Turkish embassy to formally inform them of the Court’s decision deciding on the legality of the ownership claims of Zee2 Resources. The Turkish representative agreed and expressed willingness to settle the issue in an amicable manner. The representative even said that the Turkish diplomatic office would start searching for another possible residence and even intimated its desire to purchase the property if it is open for sale. The legitimate owner of the property then asked to meet with the Turkish ambassador Isik last 5 September 2013. Yet, on the last minute, the Ambassador cancelled the supposed meeting without offering a reason why. Finally, last October 10, the legitimate owner, along with the Director of the Office of Protocol, Privileges and Immunities and two other lawyers of the DFA, met with Isik. Inspite of an earlier agreement to settle the issue amicably, DFA representatives and the owner were shocked to find a highly stubborn Turkish Ambassador who reportedly exhibited aberrant behavior during the meeting. Isik said that she was just honoring the lease agreement and expressed resentment over being dragged into the property dispute. As a sign of good faith, the legal owner, Zee2 Resources, even offered to extend the lease to the property until December 2013. The owner likewise gave enough lead time for the Turkish embassy officials to find another place to stay. The Turkish Ambassador brushed aside the Court’s order and even gave the legitimate owner a cold shoulder, refusing to discuss the matter with DFA officials and even declared that she cannot be asked to leave the property. The Ambassador even denied the request of the owner for her to pay rent which has accrued since 2011. If I'm on the shoes of this ambassador, ill be deathly ashamed and return to my home country with head bowed.