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Ateneo, subdivisions take fight vs SM condo building to Ombudsman

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MANILA, Philippines—With their pleas falling on deaf ears, Ateneo de Manila University and Quezon City subdivisions took their fight against the construction of a 42-storey condominium unit to the Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday.

Ateneo and village representatives filed a graft case against the members of the 17th Quezon City Council, a building official and SM Development Corporation officers for the allegedly unjustified exemptions from the zoning ordinance given to SMDC for the construction of the Blue Residences on Katipunan Avenue.

They alleged that SMDC, through a certificate of exemption from the Quezon City Council that was approved in one day, was given preferential treatment and allowed to build the 42-story commercial and residential building when the latter’s height was supposed to be six-storeys only.

“In granting the certificate of exemption, the 17th Quezon City Council presented, on a silver platter, certain benefits and privileges to SM Development Corporation which the latter is not entitled to,” they said in their complaint.

“Clearly then, the acts of the 17th Quezon City Council in granting the certificate of exemption and passing the resolution violate Republic Act 3019 (the anti-graft and corrupt practices act).”

The complainants also said that the SMDC building failed to comply with height and parking space requirements, as well as the floor area ratio and gross floor area.

Charged were Councilors Jorge Banal; Vincent Belmonte; Jaime Borres; Winston Castelo; Dante de Guzman; Dorothy Delarmente; Victor Ferrer; Allan Butch Francisco; Bernadette Herrera-Dy; Antonio Inton Jr.; Joseph Juico; Edcel Lagman Jr.; Eufemio Lagumbay; Voltaire Godofredo Liban; Raquel Malangen; Ramon Medalla; Eden Medina; Franz Pumaren; and Jesus Manuel Suntay.

They served during the 17th City Council, whose term ended in 2010. Several of them are still councilors, while several others have joined congress.

Also charged were Isagani Verzosa Jr., the officer-in-charge of the Department of Building Official of Quezon City, and SMDC officers Rogelio Cabuñag, Rudy Concepcion and Adelaida Cobres.

The complainants were Ateneo de Manila University, the officers of the Sangguniang ng mga Mag-Aaral ng mga Paaralang Loyola ng Ateneo de Manila; La Vista Association, Inc.; Varsity Hills Homeowners Association; Villa Aurora Townhomes Homeowners Association Inc.; and Xavierville II Homeowners Association, Inc.

The complainants’ lawyer, Giovanni Vallente,  said in an interview  they were not objecting to the construction of the building, but to the fact the rules and proper processes were not followed.

Vallente noted that there were too few parking slots in the building compared to the number of units. Because of this, the vehicles of those staying in the building might clog up the roads and cause traffic.

Vallente said the complainants decided to take legal action after their attempts to convince the SMDC to follow the zoning ordinance and the National Building Code of the Philippines, as well as to talk to the councilors to rescind the exemption, was not fruitful.

“This is about good governance,” he said of the complaint.

The complainants said that while exemptions to the zoning ordinance were allowed, there were conditions that must be met and steps that must be taken.

But they said the councilors did not follow these. No public consultations were held with the Loyola Heights community, the very constituents whose interests the councilors were supposed to serve, they said in their complaint.

They also noted that there was no reason given for exempting SMDC from the ordinance, and a fruitful debate on the exemption also failed to take place. As such, the benefits that SMDC got from the ordinance were unwarranted, they said.

They said the council passed the ordinance under suspended rules. But they added that there was no pressing reason—such as an urgent budgetary requirement or peace and order concerns—for this suspension at that time.

“On the contrary, because of the suspension of the rules, the 17th Quezon City Council railroaded the process in passing and approving resolutions. This resulted in utter prejudice to the Loyola Heights Community because the rise of a building such as SM Blue would bring about long term and irreversible effects which the community was not even consulted about,” they said.

The city council, in granting SMDC a zoning ordinance exemption, also effectively granted it a free pass to violate the National Building Code, the complainants said. But the council has no authority to grant exemptions from the building code, since this authority rests with the Public Works Department, they added.


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Tags: Ombudsman , SM condo , subdivisions


  • Victoria

    SMDC is turning into a bully. They must be stop.

  • Anonymous

    Ateneo is wrong here. This building is along Aurora Blvd less than 100 meters from MRT2 Station. They are the bully here. Ateneo has been abusing KAtipunan motorists for so long.
    they enrol so much students without expanding their entry gate capacity the result of which is monstrous traffic everyday infront of ateneo. that area needs more high rise to maximize the MRT there
     

    • Anonymous

      Uhh, the building is along Katipunan Ave…

      • calvin schiraldi

        Uhm, the building is along aurora and katipunan ave…

    • Anonymous

      What’s the distance from MRT got to do with the argument? There is a zoning restriction in QC that no buildin should be higher than 24 floors. The SM building is planned to be 41 floors, therefore the violation that was allowed.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IWXABW3CIPT2G3V2G6GLBYIE7A Alteisen

      Er… What was the main complaint of the Ateneo and the Loyola Heights community here?

    • Anonymous

      @rolandtr – the building is along Katipunan, the gasoline station beside it is the one along aurora.  MRT has nothing to do with the issue. the main complaint is the zoning – from 24 stories (which is still a high rise) SMDC was able to ‘get’ an excemption from the QC council to build 41 stories. There’s a very similar case along Xavierville ave. A building there (Regina Bldg) got an excemption from the QC council years ago to build 20+ story bldg when the zoning only allows 12 stories. the result is more traffic along Xavierville ave because of more volume of the coming & going of the cars owned by the tenants. added to this Regina bldg is near the intersection of xavierville ave & esteban abada; traffic virtually stops when cars go in & out of that bldg. Going back to SMDC, its location is very similar to Regina. the SMDC bldg is smack in front of the U-turn under the flyover along Katipunan.

  • Anonymous

    Quezon City is fast becoming a crazy city with the imbecile leaders (most of them) it has…i miss the days and night when quezon city was a blessing for its inhabitants.
    Now, crime, illegal settlers, liquor drinking in open public places, heavy traffic, bad roads, dirty environment, say it quezon city has it!
    Quezon City must stick to it’s original founding principle of providing peaceful and habitable place to live for. I don’t see it that way now…sadly.

  • Anonymous

    SMDC where the good guys are based. :)) Where then is the principle of the slogan?

  • asdafaa qwesda

    I think a far more important issue is whether the interests of the public are better served by a 42 story building or a 6 story building.

    Ask yourselves, do more people benefit from more high story condos along Katipunan or not? Higher story building end up costing cheaper where land is expensive. That is more lower income people aree able to live closer to high commercial areas as a result of high rise condos. And therefore live closer to work. These people who complain about this condo are the rich folks who want to maintain the status quo. Heaven forbid those of lower class force a loyola resident to build a higher wall or be forced not to hang around their garden.

    As for the interests of ateneo students, i very much doubt ateneo students mind the building and ateneo’s concerns are mor imagined than real.

  • Anonymous

    My children went to Ateneo and Mirriam for their education. I had Jesuit professors myself.  But this concept that Ateneo or Mirriam should be isolated from high rise buildings is just so elitist. Is La Salle or UST less of an educational institution because they have high rise buildings around them? What is the fuzz over this high rise buildings? So what if City Hall revised the zoning of the area? Good that they granted an exemption. The City University of Hongkong is surrounded with high rise buildings far taller than what SMDC is building and that instituion ranks higher than Ateneo in international academic metrics. The only reason for Ateneo to complain is the carrying capacity of the area which they think is now congested. Otherwise, a complain over an exemption is simply frivolous. And talking about carrying capacity, Mirriam College and Ateneo ( the two most vociferous complainants of this high rise project) are the two institutions who has been so abusive of the carrying capacity of Katipunan Ave since the late 90′s. They increase their enrollments to the detriments of the ordinary commuters of Katipunan every day. The traffic practically crawl because of the over capacity of the entry exit gates of Mirriam and Ateneo. SMDC on the other hand is giving so many urban dwellers an opportunity to live near the MRT 2 line which is a major mass transit infrastructure of Metro Manila. 

  • Neil Eric Pecache

    We ateneans mind the exemption granted because it is a form of corruption. We already recognize that the Katipunan area is heavily congested by traffic (not to mention that establishments are quite packed everyday). Although the height is a matter because of disaster concerns (near earthquake belt), this high density building (and this is not cheap housing, the cheapest units costs 1.8M [its SM for christ's sake]) will of inevitably increase population density in an area that was not zoned for that kind of foor and car traffic. We are not elitists, its not a matter of having high buildings near us, we (and the daily motorists of C5-Katipunan) WILL mind the additional traffic and of course, we fight for good governance. OH, and the building is near LRT Line 2 not MRT, but the point is LRT 2 is already at full capacity during rush hours. How do you think will it cope with a hundred to a thousand more people? If ever they all use public transport….if they use cars, we’re back to the Katipunan traffic again.

    • asdafaa qwesda

      “We are not elitists…we (and the daily motorists of C5-Katipunan) WILL mind the additional traffic and of course”

      Yet you would deny the extra convenience SM condo buyers would achieve so you could preserve your own existing situation (preserve the status quo and anti-progressive). You would deny these people moving up and becoming better off (they would only buy the condo if it made them better off) because it would inconvenience you? Yeah I think that’s elitist.

      Also I often take the Katipunan road.

      ” Although the height is a matter because of disaster concerns (near earthquake belt)”

      That is what the structural code of the Philippines is for. Buildings can be engineered to be earthquake resistant. You just have to spend more on the frame and foundation.

      “and this is not cheap housing, the cheapest units costs 1.8M [its SM for christ's sake]”

      And the middle class and lower middle class (who are definitely a lower income group than the Loyola residents) are no less deserving of opportunities to becoming better off… for Christ’s sake!

      “the point is LRT 2 is already at full capacity during rush hours. How do
      you think will it cope with a hundred to a thousand more people? If
      ever they all use public transport….if they use cars, we’re back to
      the Katipunan traffic again.”

      Then MOVE! Land should be of benefit to all. It should go to those who stand to benefit most from it. And it is likely that those who stand to benefit most from it are those who are willing to pay more. Whether they pay in the form of more money or putting up with more traffic. Those who have better opportunities and resources can move and let others move up.

      “We ateneans mind the exemption granted because it is a form of corruption.”

      Corruption only occurs if the law was broken. Which happened. But my argument is that the law is regressive and not worth following. Law should serve the interests of the people and I argue that a 42 story condo does that better than a 6 story one. Natural law trumps human law. Especially human laws designed to preserve the perks of the existing privileged class.

      If you are really concerned about corruption then you should consider changing such laws. Corrupt politicians love these laws because by curtailing the natural human tendency to engage in mutually beneficial voluntary transactions in order to better their lot, their services for easing stupid laws become valuable. They can then demand bribes. And what are these stupid laws for? The harm of inconveniencing others with more traffic. Well what about the people moving into those condos to escape from worst traffic where they currently live?

      You see that’s what makes you elitist, you seek privileges/rights that you would deny others. And if you truly speak for Ateneans then Ateneans are ELITIST PIGS! Thankfully I do not believe you do speak for Ateneans.

      • Anonymous

        convoluted and twisted logic. you are concerned for the rights of people who don’t even live in that building yet. Foregone opportunities for people to move in is not equivalent or greater than the rights of people who already live in the loyola heights area. There are tons of condos out there. If they can’t build in Katipunan they can readily find another one. The residents of loyola heights in houses will have a very difficult time moving. 

        “Then MOVE”. As if it’s cheap to move. You’re the elitist one. 

        This is not about condo owners and their poor trampled rights. It’s about how SM can get its way when it wants it. It’s their commercial rights which seem to take precedence over everything. . .the company owned by the richest man in the country.

      • asdafaa qwesda

        “Foregone opportunities for people to move in is not equivalent or greater than the rights of people who already live in the loyola heights area…The residents of loyola heights in houses will have a very difficult time moving.”

        And does progress always happen without sacrificing the status quo? By your logic we would’ve never adopted mechanical means of production as it would displace existing trades. Example, a farmer adopting a tractor would sacrifice the welfare of farmhands as he would need less of them. Perhaps we should still weave our textiles manually instead of using machines like what they did in India in this youtube video (watch?v=eJzd8HjRye4). I repeat my argument land should go to those who will most benefit from it. And price system, imperfect as it is, is the most efficient (at least more efficient than NGOs or bureaucrats) at determining who would benefit most as they would be willing to pay more or put up with more.

        Sorry I took for granted the obvious appeal of progressiveness and didn’t think anyone would argue against it.

        If this is what they teach in Law school then no wonder our country is so backward.

        “”Then MOVE”. As if it’s cheap to move. You’re the elitist one. ”

        Ahem then put up with the traffic JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. The buyers of these condos are probably escaping worse traffic from where they currently live. What about their “rights” to live in less congested areas? You regressive elitist?

        “It’s about how SM can get its way when it wants it. It’s their
        commercial rights which seem to take precedence over everything. . .the
        company owned by the richest man in the country.”

        I agree, SM shouldn’t be the only one building condos there. I believe EVERY developer that wants to build a condo in Katipunan should be allowed to. It is because of these short-sighted laws that allow SM and other big developers to monopolize the building of such condos by UNNECESSARILY RAISING THE COST OF DEVELOPING CONDOS.

  • Arbie Baguios

    Whether there is a ‘real’ problem or not, that is not the point. (It is endlessly arguable.)

    The point is QC gov’t gave an exemption in only just ONE DAY without VALID REASON. And we are smart enough to think that there is something going on behind closed doors, under the table, etc., etc.

    We’re not against SMDC. If it got the permit through a due process, FINE.

    We’re against the shady practices that is prevalent in out government. In our system.

    • asdafaa qwesda

      “Whether there is a ‘real’ problem or not, that is not the point. (It is endlessly arguable.)”

      Really? Do you really think stating an opinion is a form of argument? Oooo let me try. Uhm… no it’s not endlessly arguable so there! And my goodness don’t you think if there wasn’t a REAL problem then we would have nothing to discuss?

      “We’re against the shady practices that is prevalent in out government. In our system.”

      I’ll just repeat my reply to Nic Legaspi:

      A lot of regulations only exist because it allows corrupt politicians to demand bribes to grant exemptions. Even if a developer follows all the rules you still have to come across if you don’t want any “difficulty” so might as well get something out of it.

      Bottomline: politicians just demand unreasonable and uneconomic things to force businesses to cough up.

      If you’re truly interested in tackling corruption (and not just so you don’t have to wake a little earlier to avoid the traffic) then I suggest you look deeper at laws that breed corruption because they hinder the natural right of humans to engage in voluntary transactions.

  • Anonymous

    ganyan talaga basta malaking kompanya di makatangi ang mga opisyal ng gobyerno kasi ang laki ng suhol. ibilad sa aarw ang mga bwisit na corrupt official na yan

  • Nic Legaspi

    Public consultations are held because projects like these directly affect the surrounding areas. If there is none, then this action by the city council smells of graft and corruption. Putting up a 42-story building without ample parking space is akin to building a house with no parking space in those barangays that did not go through proper urban planning.

    Whatever the parties’ arguments are, there is a process to follow. If the project goes through the right process, even if they’re planning on building a 100-story condo, no one would be able to complain.

    • asdafaa qwesda

      “Putting up a 42-story building without ample parking space is akin to
      building a house with no parking space in those barangays that did not
      go through proper urban planning.”

      A lot of those regulations only exist because it allows corrupt politicians to demand bribes to grant exemptions. Even a developer follows all the rules you still have to come across if you don’t want any “difficulty” so might as well get something out of it.

      Bottomline: politicians just demand unreasonable and uneconomic things to force businesses to cough up.

  • Anonymous

    Everybody is afraid of antagonizing SM.  SM controls so much of the economy of the Philippines.  The solons might be afraid that they will not be given loans by BDO.

  • Anonymous

    SM forgot to make a donation to ATENEO…

  • Anonymous

    MABUHAY! BRAVO judges and employees of the
    judiciary!  I likened this event as one of the early
    “sparks” of the fall of PNoy that would surely happen in the near
    future!  PNoy thought that he has people’s backing and popular enough to
    mount this war! forgetting that he has many political enemies. Like GMA, PNoy’s
    presidency is a lonely fight because once you are at the top, there is no other
    way except going DOWN! Warning to you PNOY: 
    Your POWER is not FOREVER!!!

  • http://twitter.com/abrahamdsl Abraham Darius Llave

    “the good guys” pala ha.

  • Anonymous

    Someone should look at most of the permits issued to condos being built in QC.  While the council passed laws, such as a 1:1 parking slot ratio for each condo unit,  the city council always passes and exemption as long as you can meet with them under the table.  The ordinance in effect was passed to fleece developers.  My friend worked for a developer before and he complained he had to bring millions to the city council when they passed the exemption.  It never changes.

  • Anonymous

    Tsk, tsk, tsk.  Walang tigil ang corruption!  O ayan PNoy, corruption na naman.  Violation ng RA 3019, violation pa ng National Building Code.

    Tama mga complainants.  Dadayain jan mga requirements, among them the parking areas kasi talaga meron requirements jan.  They will build lesser parking areas or alter the building later to reduce the parking areas for more office space or other purposes such as generators and other facilities which will be installed in the parking areas.

    Never-ending corruption and violations.  Its everywhere.

  • Anonymous

    my take is: all high rise building, be it residential or office spaces, ought to provide parking lots. why not assign the basement as parking lots for the tenants?

    • asdafaa qwesda

      My take, the city should enforce the laws that keep the cars from parking in public streets and sidewalks. By forcing condo buyers into parking within the building, they will put pressure on developers to provide parking. Otherwise they won’t buy.

      • Anonymous

        so…what is the dispute between ur point and my point when both of our bottom line is about freeing up the streets and sidewalks of parking cars?
        i proposed the basements of the building to be designated as parking lots? what do u propose?

      • asdafaa qwesda

        There is no real dispute. I merely specified my preference for allowing the market to decide how much parking to allocate and what role the government coild play.

  • http://twitter.com/Theroadmix Gabriel Jose

    The title should be Ateneo and subdivisions fight against corruption and not v.s. SM condo.

  • http://www-blogjosemig200905com.blogspot.com/ Jose Miguel Garcia

    The chinese creeping invasion in the 1900s broke the legal and physical defenses we filipinos set up in the 1900s.  The chinese government and the U.S. government intervened.  That is the reason why we were not able to check that invasion.  That is the underlying cause why these alien invaders of yesterday have today acquired legal status of ownership of our lands and of controlling the development of our nation.  That is the underlying cause why we filipinos who were the owners of our lands and controlling the development of our nation after we were born as a nation in 1898 have been losing our legal status of ownership and control of development of our nation today.  The hundreds of thousands of chinese including the owners of SM, are among the beneficiaries of this synthetic deviation from our original direction of development.  Millions of filipinos among us are the victims of this synthetic deviation from our original direction of development.



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