Lawyer holds ‘hunger strike’ vs. condo management

A VETERAN Cebuano lawyer held a “hunger strike” after the management of the condominium he was living in cut his water supply even though he secured an injunction against the developer.

Lawyer Rex Jose Maria Fernandez, 62, began his hunger strike on Friday morning, Aug. 13, 2021, by placing his tent at the entrance of the Bamboo Bay Condominium at Hernan Cortes St., Barangay Subangdaku in Mandaue City.

Fernandez said he conducted the hunger strike as a way to send a message to Contempo Property Holdings Inc., who developed and managed the condominium, that their gesture of cutting his water supply for non-payment of condominium corporation dues deprived him of his right to live.

But a representative of Contempo Property Holdings Inc. said the payment of condominium corporation dues was necessary as it helps in sustaining their operations including providing sanitation and security for Fernandez and their other tenants.

Fernandez recalled that he first bought his 36-square-meter condo unit at Bamboo Bay in 2018.

Since he started occupying the unit in 2018, Fernandez said the management has been asking him for condominium corporation dues worth P90 per square meter which in his case, is equivalent to P3,240 per month.

He questioned the management and asked them for a computation of his condominium dues.

But the management reportedly didn’t respond to his concern, prompting Fernandez to not pay the condominium dues since then.

Fernandez said he chose not to pay because according to the law, the condo corporation dues are the payment for the maintenance of “common areas” in the area such as the hallways, roads, swimming pool and so on which is supposed to be an initiative within the homeowners to contribute a certain amount to maintain the property and it will not be done at a rate of P90 per square meter.

He said he went to the Mandaue City Assessor’s Office and found out that the Bamboo Bay management declared his condo as a 20-square-meter property.

Due to this, Fernandez continued to insist on not paying his condo corporation dues and had wanted to bring the matter to the court so that he could finally meet the management and ask them for the computation.

Although he was not charged for failing to pay his dues, Fernandez said the management threatened to cut off his unit’s water and power supply if refused to pay his condo corporation dues.

But Fernandez clarified that he pays his power and water bills religiously.

As a result, Fernandez filed a petition for injunction against the condominium’s management before the Human Settlements Adjudication Commission (HSAC) in June as a way to prevent the developer from cutting his water and power supply.

He said the HSAC issued an order in his favor and even told the condominium’s management that there was no reason for them to cut off Fernandez’s utilities due to unpaid condo corp dues.

But despite receiving the copy of the injunction, the condominium’s management reportedly continued to threaten Fernandez.

On the afternoon of Aug. 11, 2021, the management eventually cut off the water supply of Fernandez’s condominium unit.

“I have no more options. I decided to take matters into my own hands and had to make some sacrifices. My point is that I want the people to know what they (the condominium management) are doing there,” Fernandez said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

Since he had lost his water supply, Fernandez was forced to fetch water from his friend, who lives in a condo at the ground floor.

Aside from him, Fernandez claimed that his fellow tenants were also facing problems with the management over complaints on their services.

One tenant, according to Fernandez, was sued for libel by the condominium management.

But Beverly Dayanan, chief executive officer of Cotempo Property Holdings Inc., told SunStar Cebu in a statement that she was saddened that Fernandez had to resort to a hunger strike to protest against them.

Dayanan said they already explained to Fernandez from the start that paying dues is a responsibility that comes with buying and living in a condominium.

She said the condominium dues that they ask from their tenants helps in sustaining their operation particularly in paying the salaries of their security, housekeeping and maintenance personnel.

Dayanan said with the Covid-19 pandemic still raging, sanitation and disinfection were added to the cost of managing the condominium.

She urged Fernandez to bring his case to court rather than conduct a hunger strike.

“Atty. Fernandez has a pending grievance in court and discussing those issues are considered sub judice. Contempo will leave to Condo Corp. the unpaid condo dues of Atty. Fernandez,” Dayanan said. (KFD)