Corruption at HLURB and Collusion with Empire East
I would like to bring to your attention the scandalous state of affairs within the Philippine Government office of Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB). In particular, there are more than 300 complaints filed with HLURB from buyers of units at Cambridge Village Condominiums, a development by Empire East Land Holdings, Inc.. Some of these cases are years old and as yet still unresolved.
May I first provide you with a summary of the major issues here at Cambridge Village and at HLURB.
The Master Deeds:
The Cambridge Village project as built and currently under construction is not in compliance or agreement with the current project Master Deed. The Master Deed states a total of 621 units, the project is now actually reaching five thousand units and is expected to grow even further with completion of current construction and proposed new construction. My concern here other than the fact that the developer has blatantly decided to ignore procedure to change and grow the project without the express approval to the home owners, is that this should not have been allowed by HLURB officials. I would like to know how this developer can “fly under the radar” of HLURB to perpetrate fraud on the buying public.
The copy of the Master Deed submitted to HLURB to obtain the original and subsequent Current Registration, and License to Sell is NOT the same Master Deed presented to the Land Registration Office to obtain the Developers Certificates of Condominium Titles (CCT’s). The difference between the two documents being the actual properties listed on the Master Deeds. This is a serious problem as it casts doubt on the actual properties included in the project and therefore the rights and privileges of the developer to subsequently provide CCT’s to the buyers.
The CCT’s issued by the Land Office
The Land Office has issued CCT’s to the developer in quantities far in excess of the number of units as stated in the Master Deed submitted by the developer to obtain the developer’s CCT’s. Again, how is this possible without “Pay Offs” to Land Office officials.
The documents (HLURB issued License and Certificate of Registration) submitted to the Land Office for the purposes of obtaining the developers CCT’s was fraudulently altered. The date of the document was changed from the original date of 2004 to what looks like 2007. This was done as the Developer did NOT have a current registration or building permit for the CCT’s requested so they used an “Old” document and changed the dates. We have copies of this document obtained from HLURB files.
The original building permits for Cambridge Village described construction of buildings of 2 to 3 floors. All residential buildings are at least 10 floors. The site is built on a previous wetland and backfilled with soil with no evidence of a geological survey or approved engineering reports stating that the land and foundations can support a load of 10 or more floors. Having experienced the 6.9 earthquake in October of 1989 i am pretty sure this property and its buildings are subject to “liquefaction” and will not survive an earthquake of magnitude 6 or higher.
None of the emergency fire fighting equipment is charged or working in any of the existing buildings with the exception of small hand held extinguishers. The City of Cainta Fire department enjoys free use of the property’s large swimming pool for training?
An engineer from the City Of Cainta did a site survey to review construction and safety measures. I and several other complainants accompanied the engineer through out the property. When the ocular inspection was completed, I asked the engineer “ Would you live here with your family” his response was “No, absolutely not. it is not safe”. The engineer indicated that he will be filling an official report of his findings. To further the deceit, the City of Cainta Engineer’s office issued a letter to all residents stating that “the buildings are safe” . Now why would the city issue such a letter if not to cover up the findings of the engineer that did the ocular inspection?
Collusion and Corruption with the Mayor of Cainta
We know that property has been given to the Mayor of Cainta, the Fire Chief of Cainta and we believe the City Engineer of Cainta. We have no proof of this but this again comes in as “hearsay”.
Criminal ESTAFA Case Filed
More than 44 complaints have filed a criminal ESTAFA case agains Empire East in the Taytay public prosecutors office. We attended several hearings, the last of which was about 6 months ago now. We were told that the case would be reviewed and a decision reached within 3 months. That was in February 2012. I am beginning to suspect that the developer has once again corrupted government officials by getting the prosecutor’s office to delay and postpone the case if not get it dismissed.
We were told by Empire East Attorney’s that the developer wishes to settle the case out of court. To date the only owners who have been offered settlements are our Attorney and 4 “westerners”. Not a single offer to any Filipino, nor has the developer contacted any of the complainants to discuss settlement.
Collusion and Corruption at HLURB
I sincerely believe that Empire East has “Paid Off” officials at HLURB to ensure their continued lucrative real estate fraud at Cambridge Village, Cainta. We know this as fact but at the present time only have “hearsay” evidence. One of the complainants was told in a meeting with Mr. Yu president of Empire East that “we have paid-off officials at HLURB to ensure that complaints such as yours are never heard”. The complainant involved has subsequently accepted his own “pay-off” from the developer in the form of a refund of his investment and the promise of silence.
HLURB has issued multiple Cease and Desist Orders to the developer to stop all advertising, selling and collection of amortization payments from buyers. Some of these CDO’s were issued more than 5 years ago and still the developer continues to advertise, sell and collect amortization payments despite having been ordered not to do so. The developer’s actions clearly indicate their contempt of HLURB orders. Why is it that no other action has been taken by HLURB other than to issue fines? This developer is making a mockery of PD 957 and of HLURB and the Philippine Government. I have submitted multiple motions to HLURB requesting that the developer be found in contempt of HLURB orders but again, with no result and no response to my requests.
I would have expected HLURB to take some action over the past 9 years, but apparently all they are willing to do is issue CDO’s and nothing further. I would like to see the following actions taken by HLURB or other Government Agencies as needed:
Closure of the on site sales office. The office is to be locked and taped / sealed to prevent further use by sales agents for the purposes of selling properties at Cambridge Village.
Closure of all "model" units at Cambridge village. All model units to be locked and sealed to prevent further use in sales activities.
Revocation of ALL building and construction permits at Cambridge Village
Written orders to the Cambridge Village Home Owners Management Company (First Oceanic Property Management inc.) to prohibit all sales agents from entering the property.
Written orders to the Cambridge Village Home Owners Management company (First Oceanic Property Management inc.) to cease acceptance or turn-over of new units.
A contract to be sent out for bids for the destruction / demolition of all buildings not covered by existing master deeds at Cambridge Village.
Written orders issued to Empire East demanding a cease of all construction at Cambridge Village. Fines to be imposed for every day that construction continues until all construction is stopped.
Written orders issued to Empire East demanding cease of all sales activity
Written orders to all major news media (print) to stop accepting new advertisements for Cambridge Village from Empire East.
Written orders to all major news media (print) to cancel all existing advertisements for Cambridge Village placed by Empire East or its Sales brokers/representatives.
All new applications for Current Registration, License to Sell and Building Permits from Empire East to be held without approval pending resolution of all open cases filed against Empire East.
Dissolution of the existing Cambridge Village Home Owners Association.
Daily site inspections by authorized HLURB inspectors to ensure compliance of all orders to stop sales, advertising and construction at Cambridge Village.
HLURB to assume control of the Cambridge Village project and home owners association until such time as all cases are resolved AND all documents are in order including but not limited to:
Updated and owner approved Master Deeds
Valid Current Registration for Empire East at Cambridge Village
Valid License to Sell for Empire East at Cambridge Village
Valid building / construction permits.
In summary, we have documentary evidence to support each and every one of our claims but can not get any government official to do anything or take any action. I also know that this is only the tip of the iceberg as it relates to only one project by a single developer. We know that this developer has had complaints to HLURB from almost every project they have undertaken. It is my hope and prayer that you in your capacity utilize your resources to do a proper investigation and expose the fraud and corruption at Empire East, HLURB and the Land Office.