Something is rotten in the state of HLURB | Inquirer Opinion
As I See It

Something is rotten in the state of HLURB

/ 11:56 PM December 01, 2013

The Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) was created to regulate subdivisions and their homeowners’ associations, and the Magna Carta for Homeowners defines the rights and duties of homeowners. The Magna Carta provides, among others, why and how association officers can be removed from office. But it emphasizes that there should always be “due process,” which is guaranteed by the Constitution.

The HLURB wrote the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the Magna Carta but forgot to mention “due process” in these rules. “Due process” is a basic right guaranteed by the Constitution to every citizen, especially those accused of wrongdoing. But this was denied the president and vice president of the Filinvest I Homeowners Association Inc. (Filhai) in Quezon City: They were suddenly removed from office by the regional director of the HLURB upon the petition of a minority group of homeowners. Filhai has appealed this decision to the chair and members of the HLURB board of directors. It also moved for the inhibition of HLURB’s National Capital Region director Alfredo Gil M. Tan from the case as he is seen to be partial to the petitioners and biased against the two defendants, and to have violated the procedure laid down by the IRR.

Another violation: The IRR provides that the causes for the removal of directors should be based on the bylaws of the association. But the Filhai bylaws contain no grounds for the removal of directors. In fact, the case has all the earmarks of having been railroaded through the HLURB.


In a matter of days after the petition was submitted, without any hearing to get the side of the defendants, without a competent verification of the signatures of the minority (not the majority) homeowners who allegedly signed the petition (only five of them made the verification before a notary public as required by the IRR), the regional director issued his order to remove the two Filhai officers.


The petitioners submitted a list of seven nominees, all former presidents and a vice president of the association, to be members of a new board. It is interesting to note that the term of office of the incumbent board will expire next month. Why can’t the petitioners (and the HLURB) wait for that and run in the new elections?

There are two possible explanations:


1. Because of the staggered terms of office of the board directors, the two ousted officers would still be members of the new board where they would be a thorn on the side of the new officers.

2. The previous officers of Filhai, some of whom are behind the ouster move against the current officers, are facing estafa charges in the Office of the Prosecutor of Quezon City. Isn’t it dangerous to let them control the Filhai board as the records of the association may be destroyed, lost, or altered?

I ask again: Why not wait for the elections next month and let all the homeowners decide who they want to govern them? Why is the HLURB allowing itself to be used in this blatantly hurried and unconstitutional attempt to replace officers duly elected by the homeowners?

More on this later.

* * *

Manny Pacquiao has decided not to talk to media anymore about his tax case in the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and let his lawyers do the talking. One of his lawyers, Tranquilino Salvador, did just that—did a lot of talking at a news forum last Saturday. But instead of clarifying the case, he only made it murkier, as most lawyers do of losing cases.

To simplify a simple case: The BIR wants to do its job correctly by collecting the right taxes from Pacquiao’s earnings from his boxing bouts, from pay-per-view television, from ticket sales, and from endorsements and commercials in the United States and in the Philippines.

Pacquiao said he already paid taxes in the United States and the BIR can no longer collect taxes from him.

Show us your US income tax return, replied the BIR.

For two long years, the BIR waited for it but Pacquiao ignored the BIR. When the BIR assessed his taxes for 2008 and 2009 at a total of P2.2 billion, including penalties and interest and value-added tax, Pacquiao did not contest the assessment, but he did not pay either.

To ensure payment, the BIR issued a warrant of distraint and levy on his bank accounts that effectively froze his bank deposits. Only two banks replied, which said that Pacquiao had only a total of P1.5 million deposited with them. So only P1.5 million of Pacquiao’s billions has been frozen. Yet Pacquiao wailed on media that he could not withdraw even one peso from his bank accounts and that he had to borrow P1 million with which to buy relief goods for the Leyte typhoon victims.

“Why does not Pacquiao just show his US tax return to the BIR and get it over with?” Salvador was asked.

His answer to such a simple question was so convoluted and complex that I lost track of it. If he would send me a letter explaining why, I would be glad to print it here.

I heard, in a radio-television news program, a former aide of Pacquiao saying that his American financial adviser and his promoter are exploiting him. This has happened to other boxing greats in the past. Most boxers are not as good with their brains as they are with their fists, so they are at the mercy of their handlers. And boxing promoters and financial advisers are not among the most trustworthy characters in the sport of boxing. In fact, there are many shady characters in the sport.

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Pacquiao has Filipino lawyers like Salvador and accountants to watch over him, his earnings and his tax problems. I presume they are being paid well. They should help Pacquiao and save him from being exploited.

TAGS: housing, Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, Manny Pacquiao, nation, news

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