By Martin Sadongdong
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) closed on Thursday the MMDA Workers’ Inn or “Gwapotel,” located along Bonifacio Drive, Port Area in Manila, explaining that it is already deemed unsafe for operation and that the building was just borrowed from the National Power Corporation (Napocor).
The tenants, who are either vendors or residents in the area, staged a lightning-quick rally after being thrown out of the inn yesterday morning. About 300 tenants were affected by the MMDA order to vacate the inn as they claimed that the eviction notice sent to them gave them an extension until the end of the month.
However, MMDA chairman Danilo Lim insisted that the tenants’ contract had already expired as of August 16 and that the inn really has serious safety risks which may pose danger to the lives of those staying in it.
“Unang-una may mga safety issues tayo dyan. In-inspect na ‘yan ng Bureau of Fire (Protection), hindi raw safe yung building. May mga problema tayo dahil luma na rin yung structure na ‘yan so if ever na i-operate ulit ‘yan, kailangan ma-inspect ng mabuti at maadress itong mga issues sa safety but meantime kailangan ipasara yan,” Lim said.
“‘Yung Gwapotel Inn, ‘yung building na ‘yan ay hindi naman pag-aari ng MMDA. ‘Yan lang ay hiniram ng MMDA sa NAPOCOR ano so binabawi na ng NAPOCOR yung building na ‘yan at sabi ko nga hindi naman sa MMDA ‘yan. Kung babawiin na nila yan e ibabalik natin,” he added. (The Gwapotel Inn, that building is now owned by the MMDA. It was just borrowed by the MMDA to NAPOCOR so they want it back and like what I’ve said, it was not MMDA’s. If they want it back, we will return it to them.)
The Gwapotel, a four-story building which formerly housed the NAPOCOR, was established in 2007 through a project headed by then MMDA chairman Bayani Fernando to offer the occupants a cheap place to stay in.
The inn has since catered to workers, vendors, travelers from other provinces who are charged for only P50 for a 12-hour stay, and P100 for 24 hours.
“‘Yung purpose talaga ng Gwapotel na ‘yan ay para sa mga travelers natin na nagagawi dito sa Metro Manila na walang matuluyan e murang mura yung overnight stay nila dyan. But ang overriding consideration kasi ngayon is yung safety. So sabihin ko nga hindi naman para sa MMDA ito, para sa mga travelers,” he said.
(The Gwapotel is really for travelers who are here in Metro Manila and are finding a cheap place for an overnight stay. But the overriding consideration is for their safety. So I dare say it is not for MMDA, it is for the travelers.)
MMDA spokesperson Celine Pielago later bared that Lim gave 10 days reprieve for Gwapotel concessionares as transition period to vacate the premises.
Tags: eviction, Gwapotel, Manila Bulletin, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), MMDA to 'Gwapotel' evictees: Inn not ours unsafe for operation, Napocor, National Power Corp, rehabilitation, tenants