Cases filed against zoning ordinance violators in Davao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 11 Oct) – Cases have been filed against two property owners, including an owner of a residential house in Shrine Hills, Matina, for violating the 2013 Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance.

In an interview Wednesday, Roy Ryan Rigor, assistant head of the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO), told reporters that the violators did not seek approval from their office before undertaking construction works on their buildings.

Section 1, Article 14 of the 2013 Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance states that “all owners/developers shall secure locational clearance from the Zoning Administrator prior to conducting any activity or construction on their property/land”.

Rigor did not disclose the identities of the violators, pending court proceedings, but he only said cases were filed against the respondents separately in June and August 2017.

In a press statement issued by the Davao City Information Office (CIO) dated July 4, it said that the city government filed on June 28, 2017 a case against Cebu-based mall developer Taipan Development Inc. for the illegal construction of Gaisano Capital Mall in Catalunan, Pequeño here.

The CIO said the developer failed to “secure permits and clearances prior to the construction of Gaisano Capital Mall” as required by the Zoning Ordinance.

It said the firm only sought for the issuance of a zoning certificate on May 17, 2016, or 17 days after construction works started, but it added the firm was told that the location is in a “medium density residential zone and within a water resource area”.

The mall’s construction started on May 1, 2016. On May 17, the company sought for the issuance of a zoning certificate. The certificate, issued the next day by Zoning Administrator Roy Ryan Rigor, clearly indicated that the project is located in a medium density residential zone and within a water resource area.

However, the CIO said the firm continued the construction works despite absence of necessary clearances and permits, prompting the City Government to issue a notice violation against the mall developer which prevented them from operating the project or expanding operations and undertaking any repairs and improvements.

Section 16 of 2013 Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance states, “An administrative penalty of P500 per day shall be imposed against any person who undertakes pre-development or pre-construction of a project in any area or land without locational clearance or Preliminary Approval and Locational Clearance (PALC) and/or Development Permit reckoned from start of the conduct of any activity of the construction on the land or property to be determined by the Zoning Administrator”.

Section 17 adds that “any person who violates any of the provisions of this ordinance shall be criminally charged and upon conviction, be punished by a fine of not less than 10 percent but not more than 50 percent of the project cost or by imprisonment of not less than six months but not exceeding one year or both at the discretion of the court”.

Rigor said the city is also reviewing four other cases for filing in court for similar offense.

He said one of them previously applied for locational clearance at the CPDO but was later denied since the area was in a danger zone for being susceptible to landslide.

Rigor added that applicants were persistent and appealed before the Local Zoning Board but to no avail.

“We thought all the while that they did not proceed with the construction,” he said.

Last October 5, a minor landslide occurred on the upper portion of the Shrine Hills along the Diversion Road.

The landslide was said to be triggered by a heavy downpour, construction of buildings, and ongoing road expansion being undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) along the Diversion Road.

CPDO head Ivan Cortez told reporters during the one-hour session break at the City Council of Davao Tuesday that DPWH is “partly to blame” for not coordinating with the City Government when they started implementing the road widening since May this year.

Cortez said all developments have been put on hold around Shrine Hills, as his office no longer issues locational clearances to individuals applying for building permits because “it is highly susceptible to landslide and erosion”.

Thea Shaira Mae Peguit, geologist II at the DPWH 11, pointed to the existing developments uphill, including, among others, a building owned by Seventh Day Adventist Church and a waterway, that added weight on the already weakened ground that was said to be part of an “old landslide debris”.

“Aside from the excavation that the department has undertaken, I believe the primary reason for landslide is because of the developments which have occurred outside our project above our slope,” she said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)