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Rough Cuts | This other face of greed

The operators of illegal Ponzi style investment schemes that have proliferated lately in Mindanao and expanding over the Visayas and Luzon areas are not the only greedy individuals in this part of the planet. We have also noted that residential subdivision developers and most of their partners have long been in insatiable greed.

How are these other greedy persons perpetuating their undesirable activity? There is difficulty in discerning the developers’ schemes. First they are clothed with proper permits to operate their business. Second, when they acquire properties where they locate their new projects this undergo the process required by local and national government regulating agencies. Meaning, they can only start the development of subdivision sites after procuring all the necessary clearances. So, where is the greed here?

Well, only a discriminating observer can spot where the developer’s greed comes in. It is on the quality of the site development and the sizes of the houses constructed and offered for sale to the buying public.

We have seen this greed of developers abetted by some government agencies very clearly in several supposedly low-cost housing subdivisions all over Davao City where houses are so small and so close to each other that hardly a breathing space is left in between.

The latest that we have seen is a subdivision along the Mintal-Tacunan road. The houses being constructed are duplex structures and apparently are single room for each unit. Our observation is that each unit appears to be some kind of a bachelor’s pad. So small are the units in each duplex that in our estimate, a unit measures only about 24 square meters. So if a room with a size of 3 by 4 meters or 12 square meters in size is put up in each unit that would leave 12 square meters for receiving area, kitchen, dining and for toilet and bath.

The distance of each duplex as per our visual calculation is roughly two meters, or even less, that even whispers from neighbors can be heard. Therefore, for occupants of the units, their secrets may not anymore be safe.

And we are told that for houses that big in residential subdivision still that close to the city’s downtown the going rate of monthly amortization ranges from P5,000 to P8,000 over a period of 25 years. This after deduction of the required down payment by the developers.

Is this not a clear scheme of taking advantage of people who are so much in need of shelter they can call their own? The developers know that because of lack of money to jumpstart construction of a house of their own choice in design, lot and floor areas, and location, homeless people become gullible to marketing strategies that, for them, offer application requirements that appear easy to comply.

In the long-run however, the homeowners will realize that the unit they are acquiring is far from being worth the total amount of money they would be paying for.

Yes, from what we have observed the developers of these so-called socialized residential subdivisions where units are sold as “house and lot” package are making profits to the maximum they can get.

But what could be suspicious is the apparent ease in their getting take-outs from government subdivision development and house financing institutions. This is despite the near miniature sizes of units and the utilization of almost every inch of grounds by the developers for house construction purposes.  Perhaps the developers may have submitted to the financing agencies different design and sizes of houses as well as lot areas when they apply for financing or take-out of completed units.

We also suspect that none from regulators and government financing institutions for mass and supposedly socialized housing have ever conducted actual visit in the subdivision projects applied for funding. Or if visits or inspections were conducted, the inspectors may have myopic or perhaps “blinded” eyes not to see anything that could deter approval of house take-outs or the funding of the subdivision development itself.

And based on the proliferation of this kind of subdivisions in Davao City and elsewhere in the country it appears that the possibility of both attributes of government house and subdivision development financing firms’ inspectors are existing.

Remember that very controversial issue involving the Pag-IBIG fund and a big-time Chinese developer in a province within the boundaries of the national capital region? Pag-IBIG was, during that time, under the Housing and Urban Development Commission (HUDC), an agency then headed by the Vice President.

That controversy unearthed dark secrets like Pag-IBIG members not applying for housing loan suddenly having approved applications and their units already taken out and paid by the Fund to the developer. Good thing the fraudulent scheme was eventually discovered. Today the developer is in jail even as the cases against him are still under deliberations by the courts.

So, what then can be concluded in the present system of approving housing project financing and subdivision development in the light of the kind of structures built?

Clearly, there is collusion among subdivision developers, government regulators and funding institutions. And who are these people out to take advantage of the urgent need of some sectors of the population for shelter?

Who else but the shrewd and the greedy among us; they who wield power and influence; they who have the insatiable desire for material and financial wealth.

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