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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

High court OKs construction of Rizal Park ‘photobomber’

THE Supreme Court on Tuesday voted to allow the construction of the Torre de Manila residential condominium that has ruined the skyline of the Rizal Monument, lifting a temporary restraining order that halted the DMCI Homes project for nearly two years.
In an en banc session, the high tribunal junked the petition against the construction of the P3.6-billion, 49-storey
high-rise condominium project on Taft Avenue in Manila.
The 15-man court voted 9 against 6 to dismiss the petition filed by the Order of the Knights of Rizal in September 2014 and lift the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued on June 16, 2015.
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio wrote the decision.
“The court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter; the petitioners have no standing to sue; and they (petitioners) stand to suffer no injury. Furthermore, the court also found that there is no law that prohibits the construction of the challenged Torre de Manila,” the ruling said.
A court insider said majority of the magistrates found no grave abuse of discretion when the City of Manila allowed the construction of the building.
Siding with Carpio in the majority were Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Mariano del Castillo, Lucas Bersamin, Bienvenido Reyes, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Marvic Leonen and Noel Tijam.
The dissent was led by Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza. Justices Teresita Leonardo de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, Jose Mendoza and Samuel Martires joined him.
The court source said the dissenters recommended to remand the case with the Manila City Hall for the reevaluation of the licenses issued to DMCI Homes, since the high court is not a trier of facts.
The DMCI Homes project had drawn flak from netizens, who branded it the Rizal Monument “photobomber” for ruining the park’s skyline.
In a statement, DMCI Homes president Alfredo Austria thanked the high court for the favorable decision.
“The waiting game is over and we can now service the needs of our customers,” Austria said.
The Knights of Rizal said it would follow the SC ruling, as it thanked the public “for carrying this issue with us and for making the same as a test case for Philippine heritage for whatever the outcome would have been.”
“The public support that was expressed in favor of our stand was an indication not only of the importance of the National Monument but also to the continued relevance and reverence our National Hero, Jose Rizal still enjoys.
Beyond this, may we preserve the value of our national cultural treasures and remain to live the Rizal Way,” it pointed out.
In the previous administration, the Office of the Solicitor General accused DMCI Homes of violations of national and local laws.
In the zoning permit of the City of Manila issued on June 19, 2012, Torre de Manila was indicated to have a proposed floor area of 97,549 square meters (sqm) and a land area of 7,475 sqm
The building permit issued on July 5, 2012 granted by the Office of the Building Official of Manila allowed DMCI to construct a “Forty Nine (49) Storey (building) w/ Basement and 2 Penthouse Resl/ Condominium.”
The solicitor general however said that under zoning rules of the City of Manila for areas near Rizal Park, buildings have a limit of seven stories.

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