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SMDC got exemption sans consultation

09:18 PM September 15, 2011

The Loyola Heights community strongly advocates “matuwid na daan” in government service and business practice. That’s why we placed an ad in the Inquirer last Aug. 12. We protested the undue haste and the questionable manner in which the 17th Quezon City Council approved the exemption permit for SM Development Corp. (SMDC) to build a 42-story building in violation of an existing law.

We now want to respond to claims made by SMDC in its ad published on the same day, so that the correct facts are made known.

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First, neither a barangay clearance nor a barangay council resolution was ever issued for SMDC to build that 42-story Blue Residences condominium. This can easily be validated with the barangay office of Loyola Heights.

Second, there was no prior genuine consultation with the Loyola Heights community. Meetings began on Feb. 4, months after the community had alerted Quezon City officials about the construction activities of SMDC, and a full year after the exemption had been granted. SMDC claimed it did not have immediate neighbors to consult, and therefore it conducted a survey among jeepney and tricycle drivers and pedestrians within the vicinity of the project.

In all the subsequent meetings between SMDC representatives and the Loyola Heights community, SMDC defended its position by presenting studies made by its consultants. It never indicated a willingness to change its position. SMDC did not send a person of authority to the meetings despite the directive of the vice mayor. The community decided that it would resume the meetings only if this condition was satisfied.

Third, the 17th City Council approved, within a day, the exemption “under suspended rules,” i.e., sans council deliberations, which can only be justified under emergency situations. This is on record.

Fourth, SMDC did not submit the required documents in its application for exemption. To this date, it has not been able to show evidence of the documents having been submitted and received.

The community recognizes SMDC’s right to build, but insists that the latter act as a responsible corporate organization and follow lawful and correct processes. It appeals to the 18th Quezon City council to take the high road and revoke the questionable resolution passed by the 17th council, which granted SMDC an exemption from zoning laws.

—ESTHER PACHECO FOR THE LOYOLA HEIGHTS COMMUNITY: ALTA VISTA SUBDIVISION, ATENEO DE MANILA UNIVERSITY, LA VISTA, LOYOLA GRAND VILLAS, MIRIAM COLLEGE, VARSITY HILLS, XAVIERVILLE I, XAVIERVILLE II, XAVIERVILLE III

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TAGS: Blue Residences, letters to the editor, Loyola heights, property development, SMDC
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