COCKTALES | BF Homes sewer becomes hostage to P500-M demand means BUSINESS

The comedy movie Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank is playing its second edition at Metro Manila's movie houses, ringing the tills for the Yuletide season.

Over at the BF Homes Parañaque, their septic tanks and the raw sewage that they continue to discharge into Manila Bay have unfortunately been spoiling the holiday mood of the pro-environment residents of the country's biggest subdivision.

According to the grapevine, the president of the BF Federation of Homeowner Associations, maritime lawyer Arturo Carlos Astorga II, had become distressed over the news of Maynilad Water dislodging BF Homes from the sewerage connection project for the Paranaque-Las Piñas-Muntinlupa area that he has threatened legal action against the utility firm.

Citing a 2008 Supreme Court decision requiring the government to build sewerage treatment plants and stop treating Manila Bay as one giant septic tank, Astorga said the homeowners' umbrella association "demand that you (Maynilad Water) continue with the connection of the existing sewage line found in the BF Homes subdivisions to your existing sewage treatment plant."

"Otherwise, we shall be constrained to commence the appropriate legal action to enforce your statutory obligations," Astorga said in a pre-Christmas letter to Maynilad Water.

Maynilad Water had earlier planned to install about eight kilometers of interceptor pipes within BF Homes to catch the sewage overflows and divert the effluents to a new treatment plant beside SM Sucat before the purified discharge flows on to the Manila Bay.

But Maynilad held back after BF Homes Inc., the subdivision developer, demanded P500 million as right-of-way fee, an amount that Maynilad chief operating officer Randolph Estrellado found so "excessive."

According to Estrellado, BF Homes president Carmelo Mendoza, counsel of BF Homes controlling shareholder Albert "Bobby" Aguirre, had asked for P500 million because the developer was still smarting from the 2009 installation of water pipes by Maynilad Water inside BF Parañaque.

The city hall-backed action by Maynilad effectively ended the deep well-supply business of the Aguirre company within the sprawling subdivision.

Unlike the water supply side of the business, the sewerage connection "will not result in any incremental revenue for Maynilad," said Estrellado, offering instead only P15.5 million as easement fee to the BF Homes developer so that the Japan-funded project could move forward.

The amount would translate to about P2,200 per connection, similar to the settlement earlier accepted by BF Almanza subdivision from Maynilad, Estrellado said.

The haggling between Maynilad and the BF Homes developer about the amount of the easement fee has even prompted the leader of the homeowners' association to give Estrellado a refresher course on homeowner rights.

"The existing sewerage facilities in the BF Homes subdivisions are part of the open spaces and therefore beyond the commerce of man," Astorga said. "Hence, BF Homes Inc. cannot insist that any improvements on the sewerage system be subject to a contractual undertaking between BF Homes Inc. and Maynilad."

In addition, the Magna Carta for Homeowners and Homeowners' Associations vested in the homeowners' association, and no longer with the developer, the power and control over the subdivision's common areas, Astorga said.

Money talks

  • The Philippine Stock Exchange has been ordered by the Supreme Court to refund stockbrokers Antonio and Aurelio Litonjua P19 million plus interest from end-June 2006, as well as pay P1 million in damages and shoulder the litigation costs.
  • The P19 million represented the payment made by the Litonjuas to the PSE to settle Trendline's obligations with the bourse, with the understanding that the PSE would lift the trading suspension of Trendline, which the PSE did not.
  • Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has ordered the wholesale transfer to Taguig of the criminal complaints filed before the DOJ by the breakaway Cruz Marcelo Tenefrancia law office against their former partners at The Firm, now renamed Villaraza and Angangco.

 Heard through the grapevine

Poor Ricardo Silverio Sr.
Even in his death the founder of Toyota Philippines and former Bulacan congressman was still being hounded by an inheritance-obsessed, high-living son.

Not content with the string of court cases that he had filed against the old man, the son even wanted during the Christmas holidays to have the body of his octogenarian father autopsied to supposedly determine the real cause of his death.

Luckily, the rest of the siblings, despite whatever differences they may have had with their controversial father, have not taken leave of their senses and voted instead to overrule the hate-filled son.