Real estate firm refutes claims of condo residents

Real estate firm refutes claims of condo residents
DMCI Homes

A NATIONAL construction firm refuted the claims of the residents of its development project here in Davao City that it did not cater to its clients when its condominium towers were affected by previous earthquakes in November and December 2023.

In its email statement sent to Sunstar Davao on Thursday, June 6, 2024, DMCI Homes said that they had conducted measures to ensure the safety of the residents of Verdon Parc. The company said that after the earthquake on November 17, they determined that the building was sound, along with their structural consultant Macro Consulting Structural Engineers.

They added that after the December 2, 2023 earthquake, they activated their Emergency Response Team (ERT) and established a command center at the building's clubhouse. By December 3, 2024, the Office of the Building Official (OCBO) visited the area and assigned a yellow tag to the Belvedere building. They then offered the affected residents the option to relocate to other buildings or provide P10,000 for those who chose not to relocate. They also deferred the monthly amortization for in-house financing clients and suspended payments for their clients as long as the building remained tagged yellow.

“Our team remains in constant coordination with OCBO and the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) to ensure all repairs meet the highest safety standards,” DMCI said.

Damage reports on Belvedere

DMCI Homes emphasized that they prioritized the Belvedere building, and a comprehensive inspection was conducted by Macro Consulting Structural Engineers on December 5. The other buildings were also inspected.

They also clarified the statement on May 27, 2024 of Engr. George Taganahaw, one of the engineers on the technical team of the unit owners, that the DMCI allegedly told them the P1.5 million worth of damage could be repaired within 10 days, saying this was the initial estimate to process the repair permit.

“We want to assure you that there was no intention to downplay the situation. The initial estimates for the costs and duration of repairs were necessary for processing the repair permit and were based on the best information available at the time,” they said.

Additionally, the company clarified that there were no damages to the shear walls, and based on their reports, there were no cracks, and the plastering works were “for aesthetic finish and did not involve structural elements.”

The company then assured that all of their on-site alterations had conformed to the issued For Construction Drawings (FCDs) and considered it a normal part of the construction process of the building.

Contrary to the claims of Atty. Kisten Dela Cruz, the lawyer for some of the affected unit owners, that the Belvedere was the only building tagged yellow by OCBO, DMCI said that it was not the only building tagged yellow by OCBO, stressing that it was not the only establishment in the city that was tagged.

Previously, Arch. Khashayar Toghyani, officer-in-charge of OCBO, stated in a radio interview with Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR) on December 6, 2023, that two condominiums and a shopping mall received a yellow tag from their office, immediately classifying them as “in restrictive use.”

The three identified structures are Verdon Parc Condominium in Ecoland, Linmarr Towers Condominium in Obrero, and Felcris Centrale along Quimpo Boulevard. He then stated that based on their continued audits, there are no buildings in the city that were “red tagged”.

Safety and security of the residents

Following the seismic event on December 2, the PMO, as per the directive of OCBO, conducted a repair and vacate operation on December 6. According to OCBO, the Belvedere building has no major damage "that would compromise its structural integrity." 

DMCI expressed that, "The issuance of the repair and vacate order was for the safety of the residents during the repair period due to potential falling debris and other hazards."

The office also said that they empathized with all the affected unit owners who were there during the earthquake and understood that it would leave lasting impressions on them. However, they wanted to highlight that the Belvedere building "remains intact and safe." Based on reports validated by their consultant Macro Consulting, there were only hairline cracks in the building, posing no threat to its overall integrity.

Timely updates on the ongoing building assessments, safety protocols, as well as necessary precautions are also posted on the official community page of Verdon Parc.

Monetary compensation

Since the December 2023 earthquake, many affected residents have accepted the temporary relocation that the company offered, and some have chosen the one-time financial assistance package.

Recalling the concerns raised by the residents of Belvedere regarding the P10,000 case assistance from DMCI, the company emphasized that the assistance given to the affected residents is a sign of goodwill for the unit owners and Rent-To-Own (RTO) clients, which they can claim freely and voluntarily.

They explained that refunds for the security deposit are for the RTO clients who voluntarily withdrew their contracts and surrendered their unit keys. Regarding the waiver, DMCI said that the particular document was designed to "protect both parties and offer options for financial assistance or temporary relocation."

DMCI Homes added that all the necessary documents requested by the affected residents, such as the building plans, structural plans, as-built plans, earthquake instrument recorder data, structural analysis of as-built plans, and repair methodology, are available at the Verdon Parc Condominium Corporation (VRPCC). The company stated that the unit owners have access and may review the documents if they coordinate with the PMO.

"Rest assured that we are committed to ensuring transparency and providing all necessary information to our residents," DMCI said.

It can be recalled that on May 27, 2024, the affected unit owners of the condominium raised their concerns in a press conference at the Arcadia Event Center, Davao City, regarding the alleged inappropriate retrofitting of the building, the lack of action from the management on the severity of the damage caused by the earthquake, and their intention to file a case but being caught in a bind because they do not have the supporting documents for their claims.

Meanwhile, Councilor Bai Hundra Cassandra "Sweet" Advincula, chair of the high-end housing committee, told the media during the "Aprubado sa Konseho" on May 28, 2024, at the Sangguniang Panlungsod, that the affected unit owners should lodge their complaints with the Human Settlements Adjudication Commission (HSAC) while waiting for OCBO’s inspection results. Since the HSAC holds exclusive jurisdiction over such cases, it could effectively address the unit owners' demands. RGP

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