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Property rules

No sticker, no entry

Five Carat Subdivision is a residential subdivision with several commercial establishments operating within it. As required, subdivision roads had been donated to the city.

Situated inside the subdivision are establishments that include beer houses, karaoke bars, night clubs and other drinking joints.

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Because of these, patrons, customers and many other people freely come in and out of Five Carat Subdivision. Such unrestricted access to the subdivision, however, also exposed its residents to incidents of robbery, akyat-bahay, prostitution, rape, loud music, and noise that would last until the wee hours of the morning.

Five Carat Homeowners & Resident Association, the homeowners’ association of the subdivision, sought to address the residents’ peace and security issues by raising their concerns to the City Council.

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Acting on the above concerns, Angeles City Council, reclassified Five Carat Subdivision as exclusively residential and prohibited further establishment and operation of any business except for those already existing.

Among those affected was Willy Kong, a resident of the Five Carat Subdivision for several years and owner of several motels inside the subdivision.

Further to the City Council Ordinance, the residents of the subdivision agreed to adopt a resolution requiring vehicle owners to obtain stickers to identify themselves so that they did not need to surrender any identification card. Willy Kong objected. He argued that the policy was invalid because the subdivision roads have been donated to the City of Angeles in 1974 and were, thus, public roads that must be open for public use. Likewise, he contended that the screening of visitors would be cumbersome for his customers, affecting his businesses.

Q: Who owns the donated roads inside the subdivision?

A: There is no question that the subdivision roads have been donated to the city. Therefore, they are public property, for public use.

According to the Deed of Donation, the donation was done in compliance with Resolution No. 162, series of 1974, of the Municipal Board of the City.

This donation is consistent with Section 31 of Presidential Decree No. 957, or the Subdivision and Condominium Buyers’ Protection Decree. The provision states:

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“Section 31. Donation of Roads and Open Spaces to Local Government.–The registered owner or developer of the subdivision or condominium project, upon completion of the development of said project may, at his option, convey by way of donation the roads and open spaces found within the project to the city or municipality wherein the project is located. Upon acceptance of the donation by the city or municipality concerned, no portion of the area donated shall thereafter be converted to any other purpose or purposes unless after hearing, the proposed conversion is approved by the Authority.”

On October 14, 1977, Presidential Decree No. 957 was amended by Presidential Decree No. 1216, which made the donation to the local government unit mandatory.

“Section 2. Section 31 of Presidential Decree No. 957 is hereby amended to read as follows:

Section 31. Roads, Alleys, Sidewalks and Open Spaces. –The owner as developer of a subdivision shall provide adequate roads, alleys and sidewalks. For subdivision projects one hectare or more, the owner or developer shall reserve thirty percent of the gross area for open space. . . Upon their completion as certified to by the uthority, the roads, alleys, sidewalks and playgrounds shall be donated by the owner or developer to the city or municipality and it shall be mandatory for the local governments to accept; provided, however, that the parks and playgrounds may be donated to the Homeowners Association of the project with the consent of the city or municipality concerned. No portion of the parks and playgrounds donated thereafter shall be converted to any other purpose or purposes.” The whereas clauses of Presidential Decree No. 1216 explicitly state that roads, alleys, and sidewalks in subdivisions are for public use, and are beyond the commerce of men.

Q: Given that certain roads of the Five Carat Subdivision had already been donated to the city, can the homeowners association impose rules to restrict access to and use of such roads?

A: Yes. A homeowners’ association may regulate passage into a subdivision for the safety and security of its residents, even if its roads have already been donated to the local government. It has the right to set goals for the promotion of safety and security, peace, comfort, and the general welfare of its residents

Q: What are the rights and powers of a homeowners’ association under Republic Act No. 9904 or the Magna Carta for Homeowners and Homeowners’ Associations?

A: Section 10 thereof provides: An association shall have the following rights and shall exercise the following powers:

(d) Regulate access to, or passage through the subdivision/village roads for purposes of preserving privacy, tranquility, internal security, safety and traffic order: Provided, That: (1) public consultations are held; (2) existing laws and regulations are met; (3) the authority of the concerned government agencies or units are obtained; and (4) the appropriate and necessary memoranda of agreement are executed among the concerned parties[.]

Section 10(d) gives homeowners’ associations the right to “[r]egulate access to, or passage through the subdivision/village roads for purposes of preserving privacy, tranquility, internal security, safety[,] and traffic order” as long as they complied with the requisites.

The law does not distinguish whether the roads have been donated to the local government or not.

(Source: William G. Kwong Management vs. Diamond Homeowners & Residents Association, G.R. No. 211353, June 10, 2019)

The author is Dean, College of Law, Lyceum of the Philippines University; Trustee, Philippine Association of Law Schools; Founder of Mawis Law Office

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