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PHINMA welcomes JV’s probe on its housing projects

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PHINMA Property Holdings Corp. has welcomed a Senate probe initiated by Senator JV Ejercito on issues raised by some unit owners of its projects Hacienda Balai and Sunny Villas Condominium. The complaints have prompted to file Resolution 900, calling for an inquiry.

In a statement, PHINMA explained that all their buildings use the Tunnel Forum System or TFS construction which is known for its resilience and safety, especially during an earthquake.

Unlike the column and beam system, whose walls are made of Concrete Hollow Blocks (CHB), the TFS construction is done through a monolithic pour of reinforced concrete forming the walls and slabs of a building.

It is normal for buildings built using TFS to have what seem like cracks but are actually “cold joints”. There is a method of fixing the cold joints which PHINMA has offered to do for the affected tenants. Some of the complainants, according to PHINMA, have refused to have the cold joints in their units fixed.

The Cease and Desist Order (CDO) issued by HLURB on August 23, 2018 had absolutely nothing to do with the alleged cracks. The HLURB initially found PHINMA Properties in violation of its development schedule as no Extension Time to Develop permit was found, and issued a CDO for all selling activities.

However, PHINMA immediately filed a motion to lift the CDO based on the fact that it did file for an Extension Time to Develop as early as September 2016. Upon receipt of the of this, HLURB reviewed their records, after which they lifted the Cease and Desist Order on September 12,2018.

The said Extended Time to Develop application also covers the construction of some of the amenities (swimming pool) to be built in Hacienda Balai Quezon City. These amenities will be delivered within the approved extended development time.
The construction of the property is still on-going and the space for these amenities is used as a staging area for the construction of more residential buildings, which is in the original plan.

PHINMA also addressed the order from the Quezon City Local Government Unit (QC-LGU) released on September 6, 2018, stating that the Hacienda Balai buildings were “dangerous and ruinous”, and the suggested actions of the order ranged from “retrofit, repair, demolish”. It includes an action point that owners must “vacate” the units but without clarification if this was temporary, for the repairs to be done, or permanent.

The order came as a surprise to PHINMA as they have just had structural audit of Hacienda Balai by Engineer Adam Abinales, the structural designer of the property who is the past president of the Association of Structural Engineers of the Philippines (ASEP) and who conducts structural audits both for public and private buildings and infrastructure.

Phinma was ready to present Abinales’ report but the order was released before a hearing was conducted.

On September 17, 2018, PHINMA Properties’ representatives together with Engineer Adam Abinales met with the QC-LGU. In that said meeting, Abinales presented the structural audit of Hacienda Balai Quezon City, inclusive of the methodology to repair the said cold joints. The same structural audit report stated that “the building does not manifest any major structural deficiencies that may compromise the structural stability of the building and pose no imminent danger”.

On September 26, 2018, PHINMA Properties received an amended Order from the QC-LGU setting aside the “demolish” and “vacate” actions from the previous order. The new order merely stated that PHINMA “repair, retrofit” the Hacienda Balai Buildings “as soon as possible”.

PHINMA said ithe Senate Resolution as an opportunity for the company to present the facts regarding the issues to the Senate, the HLURB, the QC-LGU, and to the general public.

The complainants are demanding to sell back their units to PHINMA Properties at current market value. Some have allegedly have not been paying their monthly amortizations, condominium dues, and their utility bills. They also continue to live in the condominium units they’ve been complaining about and avail of condominium amenities and services.

Madaling magiba? Ejercito seeks probe on ‘structurally-defective’ Phinma condo units in Quezon City