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Another headache for condo officials

By Niña Calleja
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:10:00 08/02/2010

Filed Under: Housing & Urban Planning, Environmental Issues, Crime, Local authorities

THE MANAGEMENT of West Tower, a 22-story condominium on Osmeña Highway in Barangay (village) Bangkal, Makati City, could face a minimum of six months in jail for allegedly dumping a mixture of oil and floodwater into a nearby drainage system.

But Lydia Donato, the city?s Department of Environmental Services (DES) officer-in- charge, said the penalty may end up being stiffer once local officials complete their investigation into the matter.

She added that a team from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources had been sent to the site to assess the possible effects of the alleged dumping on the surrounding area.

City officials recently declared the condominium a "hot zone" after oil was found to be leaking in its basement on July 12. As the source of the leak still has to be determined up to now, residents of the building were forced to move out.

Last month, the city engineer ordered the West Tower management to siphon off the floodwater that had collected in the basement to allow officials to determine the source of the leak. They were given until this Friday to comply with the order.

Sudden rise in drainage water.

At around 8:30 a.m. Monday, barangay officials and Bureau of Fire Prevention (BFP) personnel keeping watch over the area noticed a sudden rise in the volume of water in the drainage system.

When they checked the condominium?s basement, they noted that the volume of floodwater had dramatically gone down, prompting them to conclude that the water being siphoned from the basement was being fed to the drainage system in the neighborhood.

Donato said that barangay officials had also received complaints from residents about a foul odor emanating from canals in the area.

However, when BFP personnel confronted West Tower employees, including a security guard, the latter refused to answer their questions.

Uncooperative

"They were very uncooperative and this added to our suspicions," Donato said.

She added that DES personnel were coordinating with barangay officials to get statements from residents which the agency could use as a basis for filing charges against the condominium management.

Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. has also ordered an investigation into the alleged dumping. "It appears that some people decided to take a shortcut but it only got them in more trouble. Such irresponsible action could affect the entire neighborhood and endanger public welfare." he said in a statement.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer tried but failed to reach Vincent Clado, property manager of West Tower, for comment.



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