[ journal.com.ph ] September 20, 2008
By: Raul S. Beltran
FOREIGN investments in the Philippines are indeed expanding and, unknown to many, have branched out to commercial parking operations.
So successful are the operations of such foreign firms that the “largest Australian-owned” car park operator has put up branches in Indonesia, Malaysia, Lebanon and Dubai, in addition to its locally-run parking area between Podium Mall and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Ortigas Center in Pasig City.
Known as “Secure Parking,” the area is patronized by hundreds of car owners daily, confident that the name of the place is enough to give them peace of mind whenever they leave their vehicles to transact business in the vicinity.
But “Secure Parking,” which is under “Secure Citi-Parking Philippines Corporation” with offices at 715 National Life Insurance Bldg. in Makati City, is now the subject of a complaint of filed by businessman Ferdie Tuason who claimed to have lost valuables, including an expensive laptop computer, after unidentified thieves smashed the window of his Ford Everest SUV with plate No. ZRO 123 which he and his driver, Eler Majam, parked in the area at about 4:30 p.m. on Sept.12, 2008.
Tuason, a friend of a ranking official of the House committee on accounts, said he found the rear left passenger window of his vehicle smashed, and its interior wet from rain, when he returned to the car after his meeting at 6 p.m. at the nearby mall.
After complaining with the parking area’s staff, including a certain Glen Advincula, Tuason said he was told that “it is not company policy” to be liable for the loss or damage to vehicles parked in the area “due to negligence and improper security arrangements” as reflected in the “terms and conditions posted in the cashier’s booth.”
Realizing that he would not get any assistance from the company, Tuason said he sought the help of the Ortigas Center Traffic Team and the Podium Security Team which called the Mandaluyong Police whose members immediately conducted an investigation and issued a police report within only an hour.
Last Sept. 15, Tuason said his wife Cecille, an ADB employee, called the company’s Makati office and was able to talk to Edwin Salonga, Secure Parking’s chief operations officer, who told her that there would be somebody who would call her to discuss the incident.
Cecille received a phone call later from Dick Wake, the company’s national operations manager who, Tuason said, was firm that the firm follows a “global policy that is consistent with its international operations.”
Cecille said Wake, who reports directly to Salonga, got infuriated with her when she told him that the parking area is also patronized by many foreign executives of the ADB who have expressed concern about the incident.
She again managed to talk with Salonga on the phone in which he promised that he would call back after a “review of the situation.”
But Cecille never got a call from Salonga and instead found a voice mail message from Wake that “there will be no action from Secure Parking.”
Tuason said the terms and conditions set by the company are hardly visible to people in vehicles parking in the area as they are printed in bond paper with fonts so small that they could only be read from at least a foot away and posted on the cashier’s window.