SC affirms subdivisions can regulate entry into roads even if they were donated to local government

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The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed that a homeowners’ assocation “may regulate passage into a subdivision for the safety and security of its residents,” even if its roads were already donated to the local government.

In a recent 33-page decision, the SC 3rd Division upheld the “No Sticker, No ID, No Entry” policy of Diamond Homeowners & Residents Association in Angeles City, Pampanga.

The SC denied the appeal of William G. Kwong Management, Inc., on the Office of the President (OP) and the Court of Appeals’ (CA) respective decisions, dated March 24, 2010 and July 5, 2013, in favor of the homeowners’ association.

Kwong runs three motels inside Diamond Subdivision through his company. He contested the policy of screening visitors, approved in December 2006, because it affected his businesses.

The SC, however, gave weight to the subdivision’s security concerns, which were serious enough to force the city council to pass a 2003 ordinance prohibiting the establishment of new businesses.

Even Kwong admitted in an August 3, 2006 letter to the homeowners’ association that there was a “sharp increase in criminal activities,” although he only proposed that guard posts with telephone lines be put up.

The SC said Section 31 of Presidential Decree Number 957 recognized the need for a homeowners’ association to “promote and protect their mutual interest and assist in their community development.”

It also cited its 1989 decision in the case of Bel Air Village Association, Inc. v. Dionisio acknowledged the associations’ right of regulation to promote safety ad security and the general welfare of residents.

Meanwhile, the 1995 decision in the case of Spouses Anonuevo v. Court of Appeals affirmed that ownership of public spaces is with the local government, while enjoyment, possession and control are with the homeowners.

Harmonizing these, the SC concluded: “The Policy maintains the public nature of the subdivision roads. It neither prohibits nor impairs the use of the roads.”

It noted that the homeowners’ association’s policy merely required the public to surrender their identification cards and would not totally prevent their use of the roads. Besides, the association did not claim ownership or any private right over the roads.

The SC stressed that the policy was not inconsistent with the purpose of PD 957 to protect the residents’ interest. On the contrary, it said that not allowing the association to regulate the roads would go against the intention of the law.

“The donation of the roads to the local government should not be
interpreted in a way contrary to the legislative intent of benefiting the residents,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.

The SC pointed out that homeowners buy properties inside subdivisions for better facilities and security.

It also noted that only Kwong protested the policy, even as he had not proved the damage caused to his businesses.

As an aside, the SC noted that Section 10(d) of the Magna Carta for Homeowners and Homeowners’ Associations granted such groups the right to regulate access to or passage through the subdivisions.

The said law did not distinguish whether the roads were donated to the local government or not. However, the SC did not apply this law anymore because it was enacted four years after the assailed policy.

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