- QC Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte presented the property to Robredo after the latter refused to live at The Coconut Place
- Boracay Mansion was intended to be QC mayor's official residence
- A resolution that permits Bautista to enter into a contract to lease the property to the Office of the Vice President has passed on first reading
Another controversy arises regarding the ‘Boracay Mansion’ as a Quezon City Hall employee said that Mayor Herbert ‘Bistek’ Bautista was uninformed that his ‘pet project’ was offered to be the office of incoming vice president Leni Robredo.
The Boracay Mansion is a 7,145 square meter property which was once the epitome of affluence, as it was previously a mansion equipped with a pool that produces artificial waves. The mansion was said to be the home of then President Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada’s mistress, former sexy star Laarni Enriquez.
The property was eventually foreclosed and sold to the government, and presently has a two-story Mediterranean-inspired building on its lot. The beach-like pool has been covered with concrete and has been transformed into a parking lot. The place has also become an event place of the city council for their parties and meetings, and currently has a gallery wall of portraits featuring the previous city mayors.
Now known as the Quezon City Reception House, Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte offered the property to incoming vice president Leni Robredo after she declined to hold office at opulent Coconut Palace.
“Ma’am Leni liked it. Since it’s custom-made for the city government and the seal of the city is a triangle and the seal of the Office of the Vice President is also a triangle, she felt very much at home.
And the house is very presentable, very appropriate for somebody of her stature, but it’s very simple and not intimidating for those in the fringes of society whom she wants to serve,” Belmonte said.
However, a Quezon City Hall official close to Mayor Bautista said that he was not informed of the offer. The Reception House, also called The Quezon City Executive House, was intended to be his official residence. The city hall official also stated that Bautista can no longer object about the decision “because he would look like the villain.”
In contrast to the insider’s claims, Belmonte said that Bautista was aware of the offer.
“We cannot do anything without the blessing and permission of the mayor. It’s really his pet project. The mayor loves this, he oversaw it himself. We really had to make sure that we got his blessing [to lease the property]. All those times he said it’s OK, it would be an honor for the city to host the Office of the Vice President (OVP),” she said.
Before Robredo moves into her new office on June 30, Bautista has been advised to pack up his belongings in the property. According to City Administrator Aldrin Cuña, the mayor has no choice as the Vice President has a higher position than him.
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On Wednesday, June 15, the Quezon City Council passed on first reading a resolution allowing Bautista to enter into a contract with the OVP for the lease of the Executive House. It was filed by Councilor Julienne Alyson Rae Medalla on June 1, Wednesday. The resolution is expected to be approved on second and third reading on Monday, June 20, which is also the last session day of outgoing councilors.
Cuña said that the rate for the lease has not been settled yet, considering the property is only 80% complete. It also has not been turned over by its contractor, Marigold Development Corp., to the city government. The rate can only be determined if the property has been turned over. The Commission on Audit (COA) then will give an assessment and stipulate a price for the lease.
He also added that if the property has been valued lower than the COA’s prescribed rate, it would become detrimental to the local government. Despite the councilors’ concerns regarding Cuña’s findings, Bautista stated that he was in favor of the contract.
As the contract went through periods of amendment, a clause affirming the mayor’s gracious offer of the property to the OVP was omitted. If the clause has been retained, documents required for the turnover (i.e. fire, sanitary and occupancy permits) should have been completed.
Belmonte stated that the COA authorized them to rate the property since it was a government-to-government contract.
“The price is not an issue for the city government because we never intended to make money from it. We would’ve lent it for free, but it’s not allowed,” she added.
She also hoped that the negative image of the Boracay Mansion be erased from the people’s minds, as she does not want Vice President-elect Leni Robredo to be associated with ‘corruption and opulence’. She said that those qualities are far from her personality.
It has been reported that Bautista will hold a press conference on the said grounds on Monday.