Protecting property values in Ayala Alabang

BUSINESS SNIPPETS - Marianne Go - The Philippine Star

Concerned residents of Ayala Alabang Village Association (AAVA) have taken concrete action to safeguard their community from what they had described in a manifesto as a “deteriorating peace and order situation in our once peaceful and tranquil community” due to the proliferation of Chinese POGO-owned (through dummy corporations) or rented houses, with some suspected of running gambling and possible drug-related activities, and hiring armed and dangerous private security and military personnel operating within the village.

The manifesto stressed that “it is time for all residents to speak up! To keep silent and uninvolved is to allow crimes to continue unabated. It is time for us to show our outrage at how our community is becoming a nest of undesirable residents and their bodyguards.”

According to some of the concerned residents, parked along the Country Club drive are some of the most expensive cars with arrogant bodyguards milling around.

Starting last weekend, concerned residents have been allowed by the AAVA and Barangay Ayala Alabang to put up streamers and signages in strategic locations that say “NO POGO, NO bodyguards, NO gambling.” The streamers and signages are intended to make it clear to the Chinese residents that their activities are being monitored and are unwanted.

Likewise, the concerned residents of AAVA and BAA have formed a legal team that is already in the process of gathering evidence that can be used to file cases against the “undesirable residents.”

The AAVA and BAA are also planning to add more CCTV cameras in strategic locations.

Exasperated residents complained that some of the Chinese residents are “too powerful” as local authorities are not able to take action on the unwanted residents despite complaints due to the alleged interference of some officials from the Department of Justice.

At least three or four raids have been conducted in Ayala Alabang over the years, but still the activities persist. Filipino owners who rent out their properties to suspected POGO – related tenants receive double or triple the normal rent they would otherwise get.

In what they call a “People Power” manifesto circulated among AAVA residents last month, local residents were urged to “no longer be silent and allow our families to be exposed to danger inside our sanctuary.” Additionally, the local residents were admonished to “no longer allow the property values of Ayala Alabang to deteriorate because of our silence.”

About 125 houses are reportedly under surveillance by AAVA and BAA. Other Alabang area villages are also reportedly trying to kick out the suspected Chinese residents engaged in POGO-related or illegal activities.

Among the incidents cited in the manifesto was a brawl among bodyguards on Balayan street last May 18, with the bodyguards turning out to be active Special Action Force members from Zamboanga who were hired by a foreign resident. The incident was reported in local media organizations and the concerned Ayala Alabang residents were especially disturbed by the fact that “the undesirables have found a way to bribe military officers in far away Zamboanga to assign active soldiers as bodyguards in Ayala Alabang.”

A previous incident late last year involved the discovery of gambling activity on Guava Street with 15 arrested by personnel of the National Bureau of Investigation, including eight foreigners and the confiscation of unlicensed firearms.

There was also a robbery/holdup incident of a foreign resident on Talisay Street involving five bodyguards and drivers.

The manifesto also cited a kidnapping along Champaca Street of six foreigners who were eventually found murdered in Laguna under gruesome circumstances.

Lastly, the manifesto recalled two previous cases of houses clandestinely used as shabu laboratories.

The concerned AAVA residents pointed out that the problem in their community started more than seven years ago when the government allowed POGOs into the country to boost Chinese investments.

The first stage, thus, saw houses being rented out to foreigners at what they termed “exorbitant” prices. Soon after the village started seeing the bodyguards and high-end fancy cars. It also became obvious that some of the properties were being used as staff houses in blatant violation of AAVA’s one family policy.

The second stage was an escalation that saw the construction by owners of dummy corporations of huge houses that violated deed restrictions.

According to the concerned residents, with the proliferation of foreign residents and their bodyguards “who are associated with POGOs and other illegal activities, it was inevitable that criminal activities involving gambling, kidnapping and killings, holdups, and robbery were committed inside our once peaceful community.”

Aside from the awareness campaign, the AAVA concerned residents are also urging support for the call to President Marcos to ban all POGOs, which Senators Risa Hontiveros and Sherwin Gatchalian are also pushing for.

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