12 June 2010

Cornerstone Christian Academy's Open Letter

June 12, 2010

AN OPEN LETTER to all Homeowners, Residents, and Members of the DEHHA

This is in response to the open letter signed by Mr. Alfonso S. Nepomuceno, explaining the actions of the DEHHA Board against our school’s constituents yesterday, June 11, which inevitably affected and inconvenienced you all. All this time, we have remained quiet despite the accusations and rumors that have been circulated about our institution. But after the traumatic ordeal our students, parents, and staff endured, as well as the biased story aired by a major news network last night, we believe that it is time for us to speak up and defend our good name.

First, complaints for grave coercion have been filed against the security guards, Mr. Nepomuceno, and Mr. Pearlito Garcia at Q.C. Police Station 6, Batasan Hills because they prevented our school’s students, parents, and staff from entering the subdivision, the streets of which have already been donated to the city years ago. The security guards who have been ordered by Mr. Nepomuceno were arrested. City Ordinances Nos. SP-840-S99 and SP-946-S2000 clearly prohibit the closing, obstructing, preventing or, otherwise, refusing to the public or vehicular traffic, the use of or free access to any subdivision or community street within the jurisdiction of Quezon City. What Messr. Nepomuceno and Garcia ordered the guards to do was illegal, which was why the law enforcers from Police Station 6 and the Quezon City Hall had to act on our behalf. Mr. Nepomuceno has said on national TV last night that he intends to do the same thing on Tuesday, June 15.

Second, in March 2009, we received a copy of the Board Resolution of DEHHA in 2008 (No. 2008-12-1), which “strictly prohibits commercial establishments and schools in our subdivision.” Back then, we wondered why they issued such a prohibition after we had been operating in Don Enrique for six years. When our School Board met with the DEHHA Board on May 12, 2009 as a response to the said Resolution, the DEHHA Board could not present a single written complaint against our school regarding noise, traffic, security, etc. Such prohibition must be considered null and void for two reasons: 1) According to the legal principle of Estoppel, a Resolution may not have a retroactive effect, and therefore, our school cannot be covered by it; and 2) since the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) has already ruled that the term of the incumbent DEHHA Board Members has expired as early as December of 2006 and are only on a hold-over capacity, they do not have the authority or right to continue making Resolutions of any kind.

Despite our knowledge that the term of the DEHHA Board has expired, as cooperative members of the community we have been paying our monthly dues on time. We are appalled why they say they do not want our school but continue to receive our payments, issue receipts, and even receive donations for projects like the construction of the sidewalks and security guard house – the very place where our students and staff were coerced yesterday.

Third, Cornerstone Christian Academy of Quezon City, Inc. is not an illegal educational institution. We are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We have had permits from the Department of Education for our preschool, elementary, and high school departments ever since we started, and recently, we have been given Recognition for both elementary and high school departments because we have raised our academic standards and quality of education. The Q.C. Government has always given us locational clearances and business permits since 2003 for the school that we have been operating in the facilities of Cornerstone Community Baptist Church at #5 Don Jose St. It is true that from a handful of students in 2003, our school population had grown through the years, so that in 2006 we had to purchase the lot across the church and began plans about building a structure in 2008. Up to that time, the DEHHA Board or any homeowner had not filed any formal complaint against us with the City Government. It was only when we started to put up the residential structure on #10 Don Jose St. that we encountered written opposition from the DEHHA Board in the form of a Resolution. We would like to clarify that: 1) We did not misrepresent or deceive anyone with our building plans because Mr. Nepomuceno was told we would use the house for our school when he signed the permit to construct the structure. 2) The City Government was informed through a letter dated February 2008 that we would be using the house for our school as a temporary solution for the additional space we needed to decongest our facility due to our financial limitations, until we could buy time to raise bigger funds to transfer to another location. It was only when the DEHHA filed a formal complaint in June 2009 against our presence in an R1 zone that the Q.C. Government inspected our facilities and informed us that we could no longer be given locational clearance and business permit. When we sought advice from the City Government, we learned that the law has provision for the application of a Certificate of Exemption from the zoning ordinance. In the letter dated July 2009 from the City Planning and Development Office, DEHHA was informed that our school was currently applying for a Certificate of Exemption from the City Council, which has the exclusive authority to grant such petitions. Our petition for Exemption was granted by City Council in its 82nd Regular Session in March 2010 (Resolution No. SP-4873, S-2010). Hence, we have the legal right to continue operating in #5 and #10 Don Jose St.

When we filed a complaint with the Department of Public Order and Safety (DPOS) of the City Government against the DEHHA for preventing one of our employees from entering the subdivision last May 21, 2010, their officials paid Mr. Nepomuceno a visit last Thursday, June 3. They showed him our documents, including the Certificate of Exemption, and warned him that if he will order the guards at the gate to prevent entry to anyone, it would be an illegal act. In spite of this, Mr. Nepomuceno padlocked the gates at Commonwealth and ordered the guards to prevent students, parents, and staff from entering yesterday.

Fourth, Cornerstone Academy is not a threat to your security. In fact, we are serving the community already by providing quality Christian education to regular and special students, a number of whom are residents. We believe that whatever inconvenience you may experience by our presence in Don Jose may be easily addressed through peaceful dialogues. We have tried to peacefully and amicably settle with the DEHHA Board in the form of a compromise agreement dated November 2009; however, they rejected our offer. The City Government and the DepEd advised us that we are not the only school operating inside a private subdivision, and most parties have settled many such disputes amicably. They are the government agencies that have the authority to shut us down – not any Homeowners Association, not even the HLURB.

Dear fellow homeowners, we stand by our rights as citizens and we implore you not to support the illegal actions being taken by the DEHHA Board against our institution.

Very truly yours,

#5 and #10 Don Jose St.

Please pass to others!

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