Why Ayala execs stay behind the scenes after Serendra blast

Aya Lowe
Ayala Land president says they don't want to send out messages that would conflict with the government's official one

BEHIND THE SCENES. Why has Ayala Land top officials remained silent during the investigations? Photo by Aya Lowe

MANILA, Philippines – The top executives of property giant Ayala Land Inc (ALI) have largely remained silent in the days following the Serendra blast because they don’t want to send out messages that would conflict with the government’s official one, ALI president Antonino Aquino told Rappler. 

It’s been nearly two weeks since a blast at the high-end Two Serendra apartment complex killed 3 people and injured 4, but aside from official statements the developer has been releasing after the incident, little has been seen or heard of from the company’s who’s who.  

“The government is the one that has been in touch with the public being able to make sure that the investigation is going to happen. If we are going to be stepping in, it might be just coming around with a different kind of message,” said Aquino in an exclusive interview with Rappler on Thursday, June 13. 

Watch the interview below.

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas has been the sole public face for the Serendra blast investigation, which pointed to gas leak as the cause of the explosion. Roxas remains the lead in the ongoing efforts to determine who is accountable for the incident.

Aquino has stood behind Roxas in press conferences, not speaking a word. He, other executives, or even the Ayalas themselves have largely shied away from the public glare. Only short and cryptic media statements were issued by the corporate entity.  

“There have been questions we have to be able to properly answer. This is something that originated out of one particular unit, which produced catastrophic results,” he said. 

During the Rappler interview, Aquino declined to get into the specifics about the concerns that have been voiced or on how it will affect the sales of their other development projects.

Ayala Land is currently the country’s biggest property firm with a diversified portfolio ranging from affordable to luxury residential units, and aimed at residential, commercial and industrial markets.  

Out of the public eye

Aquino said he gets a “daily report” on the development of the investigation and different issues raised by various stakeholders “at all levels.”

“We’re picking up valuable lessons,” he said. 

To address the issues, he said the company has “a centralized set up,” which includes a customers service team responsible for addressing concerns. 

He said that the company has made a conscious decision to take a backdoor approach, expressing condolences and sympathy toward the victims’ families out of the public eye, and arranging meetings with investors and homeowners of their properties. 

“We would rather be focused on customers’ care and safety. We’re also running business on a normal basis and that’s an added dimension,” he said. 

He said the company has been active behind the scenes by talking to condominium corporations and associations through customer service outlets. Developers turn over the ownership and care of the property to the unit owners and these entities after the building is completed. 

The families of 2 of the 3 fatalities have decided to sign a waiver, which gives Ayala Land immunity from suit. They received financial help from the property firm, including educational plans. 

Ayala Land’s approach with the Serendra incident is almost similar to how the Glorietta mall blast in 2007 was handled. Top executives also worked behind the scenes and offered each family of the 11 victims a P4-million house and P1 million in cash– Rappler.com





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