Alvarez, PIATCO linked to city zoning violation

The Davao City engineer’s office (CEO) has ordered a stop to the construction of a fence at Diversion Road (Carlos P. Garcia Highway) Shrine Hills, Matina, Davao City, on a property reported to be owned by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez for lack of necessary permits.

The stoppage order was made just a week after the Department of Public Works and Highways had ordered the strengthening of the slope in the same area due to pre-existing cracks which recently caused a landslide that caused traffic bottleneck at Diversion Road.

Earlier, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau visited the area and found it susceptible to landslide in case of earthquake, heavy downpour, and massive land development.

The CEO, according to a newspaper report, got the confirmation the development was first ordered stopped on May 9 after a first notice of violation and work stoppage order was issued in the name of Rep. Alvarez in the absence of a zoning clearance from the city.

CEO Chief Joseph Dominic Felizarta acknowledged that personnel of the city building official (CBO) inspected the area being developed and discovered the construction was not covered by a fencing permit, which is violative of Section 301 of the National Building Code.

Under the law, “no person, firm or corporation including any agency or instrumentality of the government shall erect, construct, alter, repair, move, convert, or demolish any building or structure or cause the same to be done without first obtaining a building permit.”

Three weeks later, the CBO issued a second and final notice, again addressed to the Speaker, to secure a building permit within five calendar days from the receipt of the notification.

A month thereafter, the CBO made another inspection in the area but was surprised to be informed by the workers the property has a new owner, Jeffrey Cheng, according to Engr. Hilario Fernandez, acting head of CEO’s Inspection and Enforcement Division.

Jefferson Jeffrey Cheng, sources said, is the owner of the Davao Aguilas, a football team which recently hired the services of the Fil-Brit brother Phil and James Younghusband to beef up the local team, and the principal investor of Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. (PIATCo), and a very close friend of the House Speaker.

On July 14, the CBO, for the third time, issued first notice of violation and work stoppage order, this time in the name of Cheng.

All notices were not honoured and the construction of the perimeter fencing has been going on and is now nearing completion.

The city engineer said all developments at Shrine Hills are on hold in the absence of the Implementing Rules and Regulation (IRR) of the Urban Ecological Enhancement Zone, adding the IRR of the zoning ordinance covering the development of the area need to be consolidated.

There was no confirmatory report yet issued as to who actually owns the property that was already covered by three stoppage orders from the city.

The last time Alvarez was involved with Cheng was over a decade ago when PIATCO was embroiled in an airport contract controversy that linked the Speaker and his estranged wife Emelita Apostol.

In its final ruling last April 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that PIATCO was entitled to at least US$510 million as just compensation for the expropriation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3.

Three weeks ago, Alvarez, along with a convoy of flashy sports utility vehicles (SUVs), revisited the area and entered the premises.