P46-M community center splits Ayala Alabang folkBy Jaymee T. Gamil |Philippine Daily Inquirer
All’s not well in an upscale subdivision in Muntinlupa City, where the residents are divided over the construction of a P46-million community center.
Residents representing around 700 households out of the total of 4,500 homes at Ayala Alabang Village gathered on Thursday to show opposition to the planned three-story structure, saying it was approved by local officials without public consultation and would undermine security, the local environment and the value of surrounding properties.
The center is set to rise in the open space straddling Narra and Maria Cristina parks. It has the support of the local government of Barangay (village) Ayala Alabang, the village association officers and some 500 residents, mostly senior citizens.
Those in favor of the project said it would just be an extension of the existing barangay and village association complex adjacent to the park, and serve as a “one-stop-shop” for the barangay’s public services as it will house a clinic and a center for senior citizens.
The dispute came to a head on Thursday as homeowners opposed to the project came out in black and assembled at the construction site, on the same day the barangay officials and the supportive senior citizens were holding groundbreaking rites.
Around 50 of them bore placards and hung streamers that read: “Ayala Alabang Village is our haven,” ‘’Save Narra and Ma. Cristina parks” and “Be transparent! Show all approvals!” Others posted similar signs in front of their homes and on their cars.
A petition launched last month against the project read: “This will significantly increase security, safety and traffic concerns in our private residential subdivision and increase public nonresident access to our village.”
“It will also destroy our parks, cut down trees, damage our bird sanctuary and further pollute our village. Consequently, this could result in the depression of our property values,” the petition added.
In an interview, barangay chairman Alfred Xerez-Burgos belied allegations that the project did not meet all the requirements set by the landowner, Ayala Land Inc.
He said documents pertaining to the project were all in order, including an August 2012 city council resolution authorizing it. The resolution, which was also signed by Mayor Aldrin San Pedro, showed that the project had been formally endorsed by the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board.
“The concern is that if we put up the center, we might attract more people here—which is not true,” Burgos said. “We’re not doing anything different, we’re just expanding our office. We’ve been operating here for about 30 years and no one has complained about it.”
The official also denied allegations that the residents were not consulted, saying the project was earlier publicized in the community newsletter.
Frederico Sarabia, president of Ayala Alabang Village Association, said AAVA had obtained approvals from both ALI and HLURB. “It’s not that we’re keeping the documents from [the residents], but a legal procedure should be followed,” he said.