Express Week

City seeks takeover of Rizal mom’s house

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The city government of Biñan in Laguna province is offering P3.5 million for a 1,000-square meter parcel of land and whatever remains of the 200-year-old Alberto Mansion where Teodora Alonso, mother of national hero Jose Rizal, once lived.

Biñan Mayor Walfredo Dimaguila Jr. said the city government was ready to write a check today for P535,059, or 15 percent of the total property price, which was P3,567,060 based on fair market value.

The 15-percent deposit is a requirement by the court before it issues the city government a writ of possession to enter and take over the piece of property.

The city government on Friday filed an expropriation case in a Biñan court for the 1,197-sqm property located in the city proper.

The property, locally referred to as Alberto Mansion, belongs to the Alberto family, represented by its heir Gerardo M. Alberto. 

Power of the law

In a copy of the seven-page case, the city government cited Section 19 of the Local Government Code and the city’s charter that allowed the government to condemn and expropriate private property for public use upon payment of just compensation to its owners.

It said the city government on Feb. 27 had offered the Alberto family a deal to purchase the property, but the owners turned it down in a letter sent to city officials on March 14.

The Alberto Mansion is one of Biñan’s few remaining Spanish-era houses built in the 1800s. Local historians said Alonso, Rizal’s mother, spent part of her teenage years in the house where she met Rizal’s father, Francisco Mercado.

Former Biñan officials also lived in the house, among them Don Cipriano Alberto, who was mayor in 1790 and 1802; his son Lorenzo, who was mayor in 1844; and grandson Don Jose, who was the Philippines’ representative to the Spanish cortes.

However, sometime in 2012, heritage advocates called the government’s attention to the abandoned structure after part of its roof collapsed. The city government, through an ordinance, declared the mansion a “local heritage site.” 

Sold for P500,000

At the height of the campaign to preserve the house, officials learned that the mansion, with most of its interior, was sold to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, a heritage resort in Bagac, Bataan, “for a very low price of only P500,000,” Dimaguila said. The house’s facade and most of its roof remain on the Biñan site.

Asked why the expropriation took time, Dimaguila said the owners previously tried to negotiate with the city government.

“But we learned that it was done in bad faith because it turned out they were also talking with Jollibee (a popular fast-food chain) for a long-term lease (of the property),” he said in a phone interview on Sunday.

Dimaguila said the city government planned to preserve and restore the house for “posterity” and build a three-story public parking area beside it to address traffic congestion in the town center.

On Sunday, Laguna artists and heritage advocates mounted a public performance in front of the mansion to express their support for the expropriation. - Inquirer.net

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