by Jonathan L. Mayuga – October 5, 2015
RESIDENTS of the posh Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City are up in arms over the decision of the homeowners’ association to construct and open more gates, despite the stiff opposition by residents who stand to be affected by the decision.
Several residents fear that the plan to open any of two of three private roads—Champaca and San Jose or Guava or both—will eventually allow individuals or private or even public-utility vehicles access to the village and expose residents to security risks.
Entry into the 694-hectare village is restricted to those with valid identification cards (IDs) or with vehicle stickers of the association. Those entering without IDs or stickers are required to register at the village’s Madrigal Gate for validation of their entry.
Some residents, including the officers of the Ayala Alabang Village Association (AAVA), believe that with the increasing development around the Alabang Town Center area and the traffic that is building up in the area, there is a need to open more gates for residents to be able to enter or exit the village’s premises with ease, especially during emergency.
On Friday, however, the officers of AAVA caused the smashing of the village’s perimeter walls fronting San Jose and Champaca roads and the construction of prefabricated steel gates, to the dismay of many residents who opposed the plan.
The construction, they said, was illegal because it has not been approved by Ayala Land Inc. (ALI), the developer of the property and owner of the perimeter fence and other common areas within the village; and has no permit from the City Engineer’s Office of Muntinlupa City.
The actions of the AAVA, opponents of the plan said, were without due process, noting that there is a pending case filed before the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), which issued a cease-and- desist order on the holding of a referendum concerning the proposal to open the gates.
To recall, to settle the issue concerning the proposal to open more gates, AAVA decided to hold a referendum. However, the referendum scheduled last month was stopped by the HLURB.
The stop order dated September 18, signed by Joselito F. Melchor, Housing and Land Use arbiter, granted the petition filed by AAVA, members Michael Angelo Oyson, Rogelio Quevedo, Teresita V. Ponce and Praxedes P. Bernardo to stop the AAVA, led by its president Epifanio Joaquin and board of governors, namely, Nelson Mendoza, Constantino Marcaida, Godofredo Galindez, Antonio Laurel, Briccio Tamparong and Eugene de la Cruz, from holding the referendum questioning the wisdom of such electoral exercise.
The petitioners also argue that ALI does not agree with the AAVA plan and set conditions, including a majority vote favoring the plan by the residents who will be directly affected in the areas where the gates will be put up.
In its stop order, the HLURB has set a meeting with the petitioners and AAVA on October 15.
Despite the order, however, the AAVA pushed through with the plan, starting with the smashing of the portions of the perimeter walls and the construction of steel gates at the San Jose and Champaca roads.
Avie Gochoco-Perez, one of the residents, said AAVA ignored the plea of would-be affected residents not to open more gates, questioning the wisdom of the plan, and the security risks involved.
“Although I am not going to be severely affected, I sympathize with other residents who stand to be affected by this,” she said. She added that the decision was made in such a haste and disregarded the voice of other people concerned.
Helen Macasaet, whose house is situated at the corner of Santiago and San Jose roads, where one of the gates was put up, said that for three days and two nights, she was not able to sleep because of the noise during the gate’s construction.
“I was surprised because there was no notice about it when workers, with no ID, from the AAVA came by and started demolishing the wall. I asked them if they have a permit, but didn’t have anything to show. The construction went on until Sunday. I felt harassed and what they did was disrespectful,” Macasaet said.
“There were many people. Construction crew, a cement mixer producing loud noise, and there’s even a fire truck. I felt very nervous that time,” she added.
Macasaet said Barangay Ayala Alabang Chairman Ruben Paes, who was there when it happened, did nothing to stop the construction despite her plea.
“The walls provide us [with a] feeling of safety and security. I’ve been living here for 15 years and there is not a single report of burglary or intrusion. I felt really sad,” Macasaet said.
Ayala Alabang Village, she said, is a bird sanctuary. With the opening of more gates, even the portion of the village along San Jose will lose the aesthetic value without the birds, which tend to fly away from noise created by car engines and horns.
“I am also a jogger and I hate fumes. I enjoy living in healthy environment,” she said.
“People in our village go in San Jose because the road is free from passing vehicles. Dog owners also go there to walk their dogs every morning,” she added.
According to Macasaet, the San Jose Road is where senior citizens of the village gather around every morning to watch the sunset or enjoy the sun. Since it was also a dead end, many children who are learning how to ride a bike go there together with their parents, she said.
San Jose Road is a narrow street and is not designed for vehicular traffic, she added.
The other side of the wall is a property of Filinvest Homes, and she said there is no road leading out to the highway, she added.
There are currently three main gates in Ayala Alabang Village, namely, Madrigal, Acacia and Mindanao avenues, which spill out to Commerce Avenue.
San Jose Road leads out to a property of Filinvest Homes, which is reportedly selling portion of the property to Barangay Ayala Alabang to pave the way for the opening of the San Jose gate and Champaca gates at P54 million.
According to some residents, the property is being offered at 50 per cent off, insinuating that part of the deal among AAVA, Barangay Ayala Alabang and Filinvest Homes is to open the gate at San Jose.
On the other hand, Champaca Road leads out to Daanghari, a national road, now being popularly used by motorists from the South in going to Metro Manila and vice versa.
Perez added that, while some residents are open to the idea of opening more gates in case of emergency, the AAVA wants the gates opened without clear-cut rules or guidelines.
AAVA, they complained, has not made clear the plan or terms in opening more gates, such as time or day they will be opened, until when and what type of vehicles will be allowed entry.
“We don’t know what is the plan. Will it be for emergency? Will it be during the morning or until what time of the day?” Perez added. “And why do it in such a hurry?” she asked.