Posh Muntinlupa village suspends stay of Chinese amid COVID fear
MANILA, Philippines—An exclusive village in Muntinlupa City will suspend the renewal of existing lease agreements and move-in permits for mainland Chinese tenants due to alleged violations of terms of their stay.
The Ayala Alabang Village Association (AAVA) issued a resolution on Aug. 31, which will be in effect for six months starting on Oct. 1, according to a report in the village’s latest weekly newsletter.
The decision was made in response to “incessant number of incidents” of violations by mainland Chinese tenants, who were allegedly employed in online gaming outlets or Pogo (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator).
The tenants were supposedly violating rules limiting the use of residences to just one family and those on quarantine protocols.
Most of the tenants also violated traffic rules and curfew amid the pandemic.
“The board of governors has deemed these offensive actions to have a large impact on the general safety, security, and health of the community,” AAVA said.
AAVA president Jaime dela Rosa said at least 18 residents were found to have COVID-19, all of them with one address in the posh village. At least 14 of them had Chinese-sounding names and four appeared to be Filipinos.
“Listing a big number of people with different names from the same address was probably the boldest move so far from suspected staff house occupants and a sure giveaway to a violation of the single-family dwelling use restriction,” he said.
But a security guard, who checked the house, did not find the infected individuals. Instead, he was met by a Chinese man, who claimed that only he, his family and house helpers were living in the residence.
“So there, the plot is confirmed: use the same address because anyway, it can be denied,” Dela Rosa said.
“Now, a new alibi has been used to confuse authorities and to avoid any trace if they were not from the address they listed,” he added, quickly saying that the village association was far from being discriminatory or racist.
AAVA said it continues to search for the individuals, who are sick with COVID-19 and had listed the same address, to prevent the spread of the disease in the upscale village.
Dela Rosa said Pogos book the stay of their workers in the village because of its peaceful environment and tight security measures.
But he said AAVA has no enforcement power and lacked evidence to prove that these residential areas were being used as staff houses for Chinese Pogo workers.
Staff house lessees also pay above average rentals, making it difficult for homeowners to refuse offers. Property brokers eager for commission also continue to engage Pogo renters even if they were aware of the rules, Dela Rosa said.
In August, AAVA called for strict enforcement of the “nuclear family rule” or the single-family residential use restriction amid complaints it has been receiving through the village’s anonymous messaging platform.
The complaints ranged from “raucous partying to banging of pots while cooking, wild drinking sessions, noisy conversations and even shouting.”
“Many of the complainants pointedly identify the subject of their complaints as staff houses linked to Pogos because of the sheer number of unrelated occupants, including the guests, congregating especially during the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) period — and during the unholy hours at night up to early morning,” AAVA said.
Given the series of incidents, AAVA urged lessors, brokers and other stakeholders to conduct due diligence in screening their lessees. Residents were encouraged to remain vigilant and report concerns through the messaging platform.
”The least we could have expected from this group of foreign nationals is for them to exercise some courtesy and respect that their hosts deserve much like what is expected of us Filipinos when we are in their own country,” Dela Rosa said.
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