Reversal of Torre de Manila ruling sought
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - April 28, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A senior administration lawmaker yesterday called on former chief justice Reynato Puno to help them make the Supreme Court (SC) reverse its recent decision favoring the resumption of construction of Torre de Manila, which high-rise building ruins the sight line of the Rizal monument. 

“I appeal to the Knights of Rizal and their Supreme Commander, former Chief Justice Puno, to exhaust all remedies by filing a motion for reconsideration before the SC,” Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo said. 

As far as Castelo is concerned, the majority ruling of nine SC justices who voted that contractor DM Consunji Inc. violated no laws when it erected the building was erroneous, aside from the high court having “inflicted a grave injustice” when it allowed DMCI to resume construction. 

 “It signals the death of our national heritage,” Castelo, who sits as chairman of the House of Representatives’ committee on Metro Manila development, said in reference to what is now more popularly known as the “national photo bomber.” 

Puno’s group was the one that petitioned the high court to stop DMCI from finishing its project. 

In a statement, the Liberal Party lawmaker said the 9-6 ruling could still be “reversed.” 

The SC, according to Castelo, erred when it based its decision solely on technical and legal grounds, and its supposed lack of jurisdiction on the issue and the absence of any law prohibiting construction of Torre de Manila.

“Justice is not just about the law — it is about what is right and wrong, what is good or bad for a nation and its people, what is just and what is not,” Castelo, who had led a probe on the Torre de Manila construction, stated. 

“Commercialism and business should never take precedence over national heritage.”

Castelo noted that while there may be no law specifically prohibiting the construction of Torre de Manila on its present site, the 1987 Constitution and Republic Act 1066 (the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009) are very clear on giving protection and ensuring the preservation of Philippine heritage.

The SC should have taken the letter and spirit of the Constitution and RA 10066, which have a direct bearing on the case, Castelo pointed out.

He noted that there have been instances in the past when the SC stood for the protection and preservation of the national heritage and patrimony, like in the case of the sale of the historic Manila Hotel in 1997.

The SC voided the sale of Manila Hotel to a foreign investor on the ground that the hotel formed part of the “national patrimony,” protected and reserved for Filipinos by the Constitution.

WINSTON CASTELO
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