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Quezon City Treasurer Edgar Villanueva has just publicly labeled retired chairman of the Civil Service Commission and civil society leader Karina Constantino-David a real-estate tax "delinquent."
David is one of the boldface names in the 972-name list of landowners whose properties City Hall wants to auction on October 4 for tax obligations that have accumulated for years.
David's delinquency is a rather modest P31,028.40 she has not paid for a 300-square-meter lot in North Fairview since 2001, when she joined the Arroyo administration.
The reason she has been tax-dodging? That property, along with its neighbors, has been invaded by squatters, led allegedly by soldiers and policemen, in a crude Philippine version of Occupy (Un)Wall(ed) Street.
What was even more painful was that the hilly property was part of a 1,800-sqm open lot acquired with Pag-Ibig loan for a dream housing collective, an activist group led by David that had been organizing to empower the urban poor and lumpen proletariat.
Talk of a revolution being hijacked by armed syndicates.
"The legitimate owners mounted a resistance by marking their properties with frail fences, but armed men drove them away," recounted David's husband, columnist Randolph "Randy" David.
Hasik, David's NGO, then sought the help of City Hall and the National Housing Authority against the occupiers, but, the Philippines being the Philippines, nothing ever happened.
Even the neighboring lot of Arroyo Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales had also been occupied and given up for lost.
In the meantime, the squatter shacks have transmogrified into a warren of concrete bunkhouses not even the Saul Alinsky-schooled organizers would dare enter.
David's group in the end gave up trying to recover their lost dream, wrote off the project and stopped paying the property tax altogether.
"The first time my wife received this notice, she sent (someone) to inform the city treasurer that the entire property had long been taken over by illegal settlers," Randy David said, shocked at City Hall's rubbing salt to injury.
"The treasurer’s office replied that its task was to collect the property tax, not to secure the property."
In addition to David's, City Hall also wants to auction a 1,900-sqm property of the Ortigas family in Bagumbayan, a 6,096-sqm lot owned by the Society of the Divine Word, a 668-sqm land of the Grace Christian Foundation, an 829-sqm plot owned by the Araneta Institute of Agriculture and 1,259-sqm land in Tandang Sora belonging to Jose Montelibano of Philam Homes.
Robinsons' new crowd drawers
The Robinsons mall chain has apparently stumbled on a guaranteed crowd-drawer.
Make that nine crowd-drawers.
In less than two years since it pioneered Lingkod Pinoy Center, more than five million customers have been recorded to have visited at least one of the nine government offices clustered within the malls, said Robinsons Land president Frederick Go.
These nine are the National Bureau of Investigation, Social Security System and its government counterpart, the GSIS; Philhealh, Pag-Ibig, Department of Foreign Affairs, Land Transportation Office, Land Registration Authority and Department of Tourism.
The nine are the agencies Juan de la Cruz often transacts with. After each transaction, the Robinsons’ hope is that Juan de la Cruz is still left with money, and the appetite after dealing with the bureaucrats, to eat and shop within the mall.
This Thursday, the DFA will open a passport application office at the Robinsons Galleria, with two more scheduled to open in General Santos and Lipa malls this weekend and next Wednesday, said Go, rubbing his hands.
Heard through the grapevine
Lucio Tan brother-in-law Domingo Chua has been on leave for a month and is said to be contemplating on retiring from the Lucio Tan Group of companies, both here and abroad.
Chua, 70, was chairman of Allied Bank until its integration this year with the bigger Tan bank, Philippine National Bank.
In addition, Chua sits on the board of more than 30 Tan companies.