ONE of the positive things to have come out from the series of earthquakes in Mindanao in 2019 is it served as a wakeup call to both the government and real estate developers.
Among the structures that have been affected by the earthquake, it was the properties of the real estate arms of DMCI Holdings, Inc. that made headlines. Ecoland 4000, which is among the first condominium projects that was constructed in Davao City, partially collapsed following the 6.5 magnitude earthquake on October 31, 2019. Also as a result of the same earthquake, two buildings of Palmetto Place were issued a condemnation order, while Verdon Parc was reported to have also been affected.
Ecoland 4000 and Palmetto Place are projects of DMC-Urban Property Developers Inc. (DMC-UPDI) while Verdon Parc is a project of DMCI Project Developers Inc.'s (DMCI Homes).
On January 10, 2020, President Rodrigo R. Duterte reprimanded DMCI Holdings, Inc. for what happened after the earthquakes.
"Ang may problema dito sa Pilipinas ngayon, 'yung mga mayaman.'Yung mga mayaman, gaya nito ni Consunji (The rich are having a problem in the country right now like Consunji)," Duterte said referring to Isidro "Sid" Consunji, president and chief executive officer of DMCI Holdings, Inc.
He added, "Lahat ng condo niya, apat, 'yung isa bumagsak. Sa karaming building sa Davao, kanya lang ang nag... Maraming crack 'yung... Talagang huge cracks. Hindi 'yung hairline na ano. Talagang bumubuka. (One of their four condominiums collapsed. There are a number of buildings here in Davao City, it was only theirs that collapsed. Cracks were found too. Not just hairline cracks but wide cracks)."
In a CNN Philippines report on January 11, 2020, Consunji said they will pay back the residents of Ecoland 4000.
“We accepted the offer to settle the claims of the homeowners at 150 percent of acquisition cost. They have a general assembly on January 20,” Consunji told CNN Philippines in a text message.
Following these developments, the national government must immediately review the 1977 National Building Code in order to avoid such incidents from happening again. It might want to include a provision that will allow homeowners to hold the real estate firms liable if their homes are falling apart due to the use of substandard materials.
We also hope the government will not only strictly regulate the materials and integrity of the structures being built but will also take a look at the kind of services being given to the homeowners. With the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, the government will hopefully be more attentive to the issues and concerns of homeowners in the country.
Real estate firms, whether big or small, must also have a sense of responsibility when constructing their projects. They should keep in mind that what they are building will be places where people live, work, or play. Their lack of social responsibility may be the cause of millions worth of damage and multiple death and injuries.
May the industry and government learn from the errors of their practices and step up the real estate industry in the country.