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PIA Press Release

Duterte to initiate class suit against NHMFC-Balikatan

by Romy Sabaldan

Davao City (27 November) -- AN overcast cloudy skies covered the city Sunday as we scan the horizon on a steep ride downhill following a trip on an elevated highway along the Diversion Road of Buhangin District going to Juliville Subdivision passing through the main road of Jade Valley Subdivision.

Two days earlier, "scanning the horizon" were the same words that Mayor Rodrigo Duterte uttered in trying to find a compromise deal of the current Balikatan Housing Finance Inc. (BHFI) and the Davao City Federation of Homeowners Associations (DCFHA) housing hullabaloo.

Duterte had just taken a little trip to one of Buhangin's lowest-lying area hosting two subdivisions that were submerged by roof-high floodwaters for two long days during the first week of January 2003.

For weary homemakers and breadwinners of one of the biggest housing colonies in the city, Duterte's appearance was like a fresh wind blowing bringing them hope of a possible solution in the offing against what they call as Balikatan's badgering of spot cash payments and high interest rates (14%) refinancing that will further bury their places of domicile to lifelong indebtedness.

Duterte, who had earlier presented two angles, legal and human, in looking at the merits of the cases of foreclosures, had pronounced an active participation in the housing fiasco more than just the role of an intermediary.

"As mayor of Davao City, I will have to be on the side of the people", Duterte explained in a meeting with lawyer Gerard Paez, Corporate Communications Officer of Balikatan in front of officials and members of the homeowners federation. Paez, also a marketing specialist, can only counter with a temporary relief for December even avoiding a mention of the Christmas season.

Before a jampacked crowd at the Juliville multi-purpose gym, Duterte took a strong stance of a long and protractred legal struggle by telling foreclosure-scarred homeowners that he will support the filing of a class suit against Balikatan, Bahay Financial Services and its major corporate partner the government-owned National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC).

Juliville sits some one hundred meters down from Tigatto's high-end and hilly Panorama Homes, but just a few meters in stead as only their windows were covered by the fast-rising, murky floodwaters compared to Jade Valley's rooftop-high drowning waters where both snakes and humans swim for safety on that fateful night just days after celebrating the New Year of 2003.

That was five years ago when the harrowing experience had the residents scampering for safety with their toddlers and the aged in tow braving the cold night winds on top of their roofs to escape the raging floodwaters that was the worst to hit the place since it had started to be built in 1990.

The place, as one housing federation member had learned later on is a catch basin of a swampland that went dry during the long months of drought in the late 80's and sold by a landowner to E.B. Villarosa, the GFIs chosen one for most of the development contracts. Villarosa maneuvered to file a bankruptcy and had since escaped prosecution and responsibility of massive cheating of homeowners in the form of substandard materials used and construction methods that cannot pass standard engineering procedures and putting their houses in harm's way.

"Puyo mi ug mga balay nga sinipankong pagkatrabaho unya nia pa ning mga cash specialist sa Balikatan ug Bahay Financial sa Makati nga maningil ug spot cash morag wa nay ugma nga wa man gani mi kaila nila! (We live in houses built below standards and here comes the cash specialists of Balikatan and Bahay Financial of Makati badgering us with spot cash payments as if there is no tomorrow and we do not even know who they are!) Mary Banlasan, president of Jade Valley Subdivision said in utter exhaustion following an exchange of barbs over the telephone against a Makati-based collector of Balikatan and BFS.

"We do not know when is the next visit of a massive flooding of that magnitude again, but every time the monsoon rains set in, we cannot help but think of a possible consequences of another high-rise flooding. We will just pray that it wont", said Dino Ferdinand Galido, one of the homeowners association presidents in the 13-man board of the Davao City Federation of Homeowners Associations.

"But hey its home. We will just have to live by it for the rest of our lives but Balikatan should not add more to our woes." Galido said. (PIA XI) [top]

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