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MANILA, Philippines – More than 20 years of legal battles later, the government has regained control of the abandoned Philippine Village Hotel beside the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Exactly one week ago on November 14, Sheriff III Randy Leviste served a notice to vacate to Philippine Village Hotel Incorporated (PVHI), Jose Marcel “Jocel” Panlilio, and “all persons claiming rights under it,” ordering them to voluntarily vacate the premises of the hotel within five days of receipt.
But on Tuesday morning, November 21, the occupants of the Philippine Village Hotel remained inside the property. The government came in full force to get them out. (READ: Abandoned Philippine Village Hotel: How it threatens NAIA operations)
Still, the atmosphere during the eviction proceedings remained calm, even as dozens of airport police – some armed with high-caliber rifles – and K9 units began to surround the property as early as 7 am.
Inside the Philippine Village Hotel were just a handful of security personnel.
At around 9:20 am, Sheriff Leviste arrived to implement the notice to vacate. PVHI’s security personnel met him at the property gate and acknowledged the eviction order.
The gates were cut open with a bolt cutter as airport police, some explosive and narcotics detection K9 units, and airport officials entered the property to finally inspect the inside of the building.
Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) officer-in-charge Bryan Co also arrived to join the inspection.
Based on the initial assessment by Leviste and Co, the structure was said to be in poor condition with nothing usable left inside. Leviste also confirmed that they found no indications of criminal activity so far.
“Upon checking naman, wala naman pong [criminal activity]. Actually, nakita namin mga nabubulok na mga beds, ganyan, sira-sira ang mga roof, bintana – basag-basag na lahat talaga,” Leviste told reporters on Tuesday.
(Upon checking, we didn’t see any signs [of criminal activity]. Actually, what we saw were rotting beds, broken roofs, windows – everything’s broken.)
What happens now?
After finally entering the Philippine Village Hotel, the MIAA chief said the first order of business is to take possession of the property and assess it.
“It’s the government’s first priority,” Co said. “Magkakaroon tayo ng engineering assessment through the engineering office ng Pasay City government (We’ll have an engineering assessment through the engineering office of Pasay City government),” Co said.
“Our safety teams will also comb through the whole facility para ma-clear natin itong area para masabi natin hindi siya risk sa aviation operations natin dito sa NAIA (so we can clear this area and say that it’s not a risk to our aviation operations in NAIA),” he added.
MIAA also intends to improve the rusted and broken fence that surrounds the Philippine Village Hotel and increase the visibility of security personnel around the area.
In the long run, the property could be used to expand NAIA Terminal 2, given that it’s already beside the terminal’s aircraft ramp.
“This is an integral part of the development or the modernization of NAIA,” Co said. “One of the plans is to expand Terminal 2 going towards here. So, whether it’s going to be MIAA or in the future, meron tayong PPP program, isa sa mga programa talaga ay ang pagdadagdag ng physical infrastructure (we have a PPP program, one of our program is really to increase physical infrastructure).”
The government is currently courting potential bidders from the private sector to take on the task of rehabilitating and modernizing NAIA. But before MIAA can pursue these plans, it needs to coordinate with the Nayong Pilipino Foundation and Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) since both agencies also have claims to the hotel.
History of the hotel
The government’s move to regain control of the property is the culmination of more than 20 years of legal battles.
The Philippine Village Hotel was originally constructed during the early days of Martial Law on land then leased from the Nayong Pilipino Foundation. (READ: Who owns the abandoned Philippine Village Hotel that ‘undermines’ NAIA’s safety?)
From 1975 onwards, the hotel was operated by Jocel Panlilio. But court documents showed that PVHI, the Panlilio-owned company managing the hotel, began failing to meet its monthly payments to Nayong Pilipino starting January 2001. This failure to pay its rent opened up the case that eventually led to the order to vacate.
However, Panlilio claimed that his family had sold nearly all of their shares of stock and interest in the hotel in 2002 to Rogelio Serafica of Burgundy Realty. Rappler also obtained corporate documents that show PVHI is now partly owned by Burgundy.
“The guards right now, I think, are either with Burgundy or PVHI. Sila ‘yung magba-vacate today. Sila ‘yung may possession before we took over this morning (They’re the ones vacating today. They’re the ones who had possession before we took over this morning),” Co said on Tuesday.
The land itself is now owned by MIAA after Executive Order No. 58 transferred a portion of it from Nayong Pilipino to the airport agency. Meanwhile, GSIS also has claims to the improvements on the property, as PVHI has a mortgage with the state lender.
The muddled ownership and shadowy actors of the Philippine Village Hotel have contributed to the struggle of securing the property.
“When we serve sa mga last known address nila, walang taong kumakausap. So, up to the time that we are going to serve itong writ para we can take possession, walang humaharap pa sa atin,” Co said.
(When we serve it to their last known address, no one is there to talk to us. So up to the time that we are going to serve this writ to take possession, no one has faced us.)
“We’ll see kung meron pong lalabas para mag-communicate sa atin officially regarding what happened today. Pero, for the longest time, wala pong kumakausap either sa Nayong Pilipino, sa GSIS, or sa MIAA,” he added.
(We’ll see if someone comes out to communicate with us officially regarding what happened today. But for the longest time, no one has spoken to Nayong Pilipino, GSIS, or MIAA.)
Though future plans for the property may still be uncertain, for now, the abandoned hotel is back in government hands. – Rappler.com