THE Department of Transportation (DOTr) is intent on taking possession of the old Philippine Village Hotel property for the expansion of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).
In Monday’s infrastructure forum by the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines, Transportation Secretary Jaime J. Bautista said the disputed property, which has long been eyed as the site of the Naia passenger terminal-extension, will “definitely be part of the Naia rehabilitation project….We are just waiting for an agency to assist us.”
While the land on which the crumbling 20-year-old hotel sits on is owned by the Manila International Airport Authority (Miaa), he explained that the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) “has interest in the building” due to unpaid obligations by the hotel owner, Philippine Village Hotel Inc. (PVHI). The hotel firm, once owned by hotel and resort operator Jose Marcel Panlilio, is now headed by Rogelio Serafica of Burgundy Realty Corp., and continues to claim ownership of the building. The entire property is being secured by armed guards, who have prevented Miaa personnel from entering it.
“But we were able to get a writ of [execution] through the Nayong Pilipino Foundation Inc. (NPFI). We’re working on it to take possession of the property,” said Bautista. He said he has already met with Pasay City Mayor Imelda Calixto-Rubiano, so MIAA will be allowed to enter the hotel and take over the entire property. The DOTr chief stressed, “We will demolish the building,” which is the only remaining block to the modernization of Naia. The writ of execution was issued in 2020 by the Pasay Regional Trial Court Branch 45. Separate court decisions have also been issued over the years ordering PVHI to vacate the entire property.
Earlier, Miaa Officer-in-Charge Bryan Co wrote Calixto-Rubiano raising security concerns about the property. “Given its abandoned state, the building’s security has become increasingly compromised, making it susceptible to trespassing, vandalism, and other criminal activities. The possible presence of these criminal elements not only jeopardizes the smooth functioning of the airport terminal but also raises serious concerns about the possibility of terrorist activities being planned or executed from within the structure and undermines the overall safety of the area. As such we ask for your intervention for Miaa to be allowed to secure the area,” said Co.
In a previous interview, GSIS President and General Manager Jose Arnulfo “Wick” Veloso said they were willing to sit down with Miaa to discuss the terms of the latter’s take over of the hotel property. (See, “PHL Village Hotel issue still blocking Naia-2 expansion,”in the BusinessMirror, March 27, 2023.)
When the Nayong Pilipino cultural park, in which miniature replicas of the Philippines’ famed tourist sports were built, was closed in 2002, some 9 hectares of NPFI’s property was transferred to the Miaa. Later, in 2012, about 22 hectares also owned by NPFI was turned over to MIAA for use in its Naia expansion plan.
The DOTr is currently accepting bids for the P171-billion rehabilitation of the Naia until December 27, with Bautista expressing hope the project can be awarded by the first quarter of 2024. There are now eight potential bidders for the airport rehabilitation project, which the DOTr chief said will help “accommodate more tourists” in the country. The Naia modernization project will increase the airport’s rated capacity from 32 million passengers per year to 62 million passengers per year.