Residents of BF Homes protest opening of gates to public

Anna Cerezo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 08 2022 09:58 PM

MANILA - Seventeen homeowner associations at BF Homes, a subdivision that straddles Parañaque, Las Piñas, and Muntinlupa City, staged simultaneous protests on Monday to denounce the Human Settlements Adjudication Commission’s (HSAC) order to open five of the community’s gates to the public.

The rallies were done at the disputed entrances along Aguirre Avenue, Elizalde Street, El Grande Avenue, Concha Cruz Street, and Tropical Street. 

BF Homes is among the largest subdivisions in the county. Within the community are 63 enclaves or inner villages with some 15,000 households and more than 60,000 residents. 

Part of the demonstration was reinstating guards to man the questioned gates. 

Instead of BF Federation of Homeowners’ Associations Inc. (BFFHAI) funding the wage of guards stationed at the controversial points, Gloria Pido, the leader of the group of residents opposing the HSAC ruling, said it will be the individual homeowners chipping in. 

“We brought it upon ourselves to get together and do this ourselves. We hired the security agency of BFFHAI since they already know how to handle the gates. And we are only following the policy we were using before this happened,” Pido explained. 

“Elizalde will be for residents. Concha Cruz will be for BFFHAI stickers. The rest of the gates will be open to anybody; but if they are not residents, they have to leave an ID,” she added. 

Earlier this week, security measures at the five gates were eased after the petition of nine BF homeowners filed at HSAC earlier this year was granted, ordering BFFHAI to allow “unobstructed passage” of all vehicles. 

According to Atty. Efren Cordero, the representative of the petitioners, the roads are public infrastructures, thus “anyone should be able to pass freely.” 

“Di kami nag-utos. Ang nag-utos ay HSAC. Sabi nga namin, BF Homes should be supporting the rule of law. Hindi kami ang gumawa ng regulasyon ng batas na yan. HSAC. Dapat 'yan ay igalang at bigyan ng pagsunod. At dapat 'wag kontrahin. Pwede sila mag-apela. Pero kasalukuyan, 'yan ang kautusan ng HSAC na buksan sa publiko,” he said. 

The petitioners said that since the disputed areas are main roads, they should not be required to shell out for stickers.

Currently, BFFHAI said they charge residents P250 per sticker. Endorsed non-residents are asked to pay P2,250, which is much higher supposedly to discourage outsiders from taking shortcuts as it could consequently crowd the subdivision. The measure will supposedly help avoid any untoward incidents in the community.

"Dahil 'yang pagbebenta ay napakamahal. Hindi dapat, ayon sa regulasyon ng gobyerno, na kumakatawan sa human settlements. Ang pasok sa main roads gaya ng: Concha Cruz, Elizalde, El Grande, Aguirre Ave at Tropical, hindi dapat may bayad. Magandang decision ng nasabing ahensya, na hindi pwede gawin yan ng federation. Kaya yan ay binuksan pang publiko,” Cordero said.

He went on: “Ang pagbebenta ng sticker ay katumbas ng paniningil ng pera sa pag aari ng sino man para makapasok sa daan. Hindi yan pinapayagan.”

The gate at Aguirre Ave. leads to a strip of restaurants, bars, and businesses.

“Yan ang patunay na itong main roads, Aguirre Ave, ilang kilometro po, restaurant, supermart at establishments ay 'di dapat pigilan. Dapat suportahan. Ang nangyari, pipila ka. Kakain ka lang, pipila ka. 'Di dapat yan sa isang lugar na may negosyo,” Cordero said.

Pido argued that the strips are “the main road of a subdivision, but not Paranaque, Las Pinas or Muntinlupa City.” 

“It is in the Magna Carta. Home owners can control the gates, which we are doing now for our safety,” she said. 

She said that while Aguirre has been commercialized, there are still residential units along the busy stretch. 

“Not everybody has a businesses there. And the ID policy does not affect business owners here. And business owners now are complaining they have no safety,” she shared. 

Opening the avenues to the public, Pido noted, is also “unfair because it was BFFHAI who had the roads fixed.” 

The homeowner emphasized that with parts of the subdivision being accessible to the public, they worried about their safety and privacy. 

“We value our safety. The petitioners do not represent the 60,000 home owners. They are only .017 percent of the 60k owners here,” she said. 

Prior to the HSAC order, three of the 5 gates allowed entry of non-residents provided they leave a valid government issued Identification card. 

"Malaking tulong ang pag-iwan ng ID sa gates. It is important to identify who is inside our community,” Pido said. 

“It is for our security and safety as homeowners. This is where we live. Once it is open, public buses and jeepneys were roaming around. Everybody was taking a shortcut in our subdivision… There is no regulation or control over who goes in and out,” she said. 

The BFFHAI has already filed a petition before the Court of Appeals contesting the decision of the HSAC.