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Fil-Chinese syndicate manipulating land development in Naga?

NAGA CITY (Nov 24, 2011) - If allegations are to be believed, some local Filipino-Chinese have positioned themselves to make a killing out Naga City’s real estate boom that has not let up for the past 10 years.

Leading developers in the country have flocked to the city to compete in acquiring prime lands, mostly converted from sugarlands and coconut plantations. The foot of Mount Isarog is now site of rapid development of subdivisions and housing projects.

The rising demand for housing prompted influencial Filipino-Chinese to shift from traditional trading to land banking, subdivision, hotels and malls.

A local developer now claims that a home-grown “land syndicate” involving moneyed Filipino-Chinese entrepreneurs has practically controlled the rise of new business zones in this city and use questionable schemes to get what they want.

A former official of the Public Works agency and a pioneer urban planner, who worked with the Naga City government since the 1980’s, architect Danilo Manalang recently exposed the attempts of this “land syndicate” to stop the initial phase of construction of the 18-hectare Manda Resort and Hotel along Almeda Highway, at Concepcion Pequeña in this city.

Manalang who owns D.C. Manalang Construction, which is developing the said site, related his brush with this syndicate.

Manalang revealed that since Sept. this year, construction work at the resort – hotel had been stopped because of the sudden appearance of alleged heirs of Roberto Meliton, the original owner of the land Manalang was developing.

Said heirs who Manalang considers spurious filed in court a “Recovery and Possession of Property” against Manalang and successfully secured an Injunction by the RTC Branch 24 and a Cease and desist order from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

Early this month, Manalang claimed he had a visit from a former Naga policeman, acting as emissary to a known Filipino-Chinese hotel and mall owner, and was told that the case filed by Meliton and other legal questions can be dropped “once he talks to the “big-three” of the “Chinoy” land syndicate.”

Manalang was also told that the “Chinoy group” wants him to stop the development of the “new city complex.”

In the evening of Oct. 24 this year, Manalang and an aide, Ivy Lim, were tailed by 4 unidentified men at a coffee shop in Gateway in Araneta Center, Cubao. This incident, Manalang said, gives credence to the information relayed to him by syndicate’s emissary that he is under surveillance and a group is out to abduct him and “interrogate him concerning the plans for the new city complex.”

According to Manalang, the group’s possible intention was pre-empted by the arrival of his security aide at the Gateway, but he identified one of the 4 men as “Jao” a Filipino-Chinese and a member of the police intelligence group.

Manalang said he feels he is being watched even in Naga City.

In the evening of Nov. 3, a maroon Pajero with plate no. XLU – 939 tailed him from SM City Naga. Two cars were later seen parked along Almeda Highway near the hotel-resort construction site.

The “Chinoy group”  might be feeling threatened by Manalang’s new development project at the Almeda Highway, Manalang said.

Based on a brochure distributed by Manalang’s group in Sept. this year, Manalang’s project that he expects to be completed within 5 years looks huge and ambitious.

Manda Resort-hotel is only part of a multi-million peso complex dubbed as, “San Jose City,” a 60-hectare complex that extends to barangay Dalipay in neighboring Milaor town, complete with a condominium complex; a “Disneyland Park” with pools and children’s rides; and a 30-hectare lot for “street mall” facility.

Manalang said Naga City Mayor John Bongat has expressed a positive reaction to the building of “San Jose City” in the undeveloped lands along the Almeda Highway. (SONNY SALES)