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Metro

DMCI: Torre no ‘photobomb’

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The controversial Torre de Manila Condominium does not really ruin the iconic sight line of the monument of national hero Jose Rizal in Rizal Park, its developer said yesterday.

In the continuation of oral arguments on the petition seeking to demolish the 49-story building, DMCI Project Developers Inc. told the Supreme Court (SC) that the building is not a “photobomb” for tourists taking photos in front of the monument.

DMCI lawyer Victor Lazatin said the photos showing the condominium dominating the background of the Rizal monument, which triggered the petition of the Knights of Rizal before the SC, were a product of “trick shots.”

“We took photos from the point of view of an average visitor and compared to those in social media. Using a normal camera, it is still possible to show the monument without Torre de Manila. Rizal monument still towers over,” he said.

Lazatin added the internationally accepted solution to protect cultural sites was to create a special law designating a buffer zone and not by judicial discretion.

However, he insisted that a board meeting of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines in October 2012 declared that no such buffer zone had been delineated in Rizal Park where the monument is located.  

During interpellation, Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza stressed that perspectives on the photobombing issue are subjective and could require trial of facts.

“We are not a trier of facts. We cannot try who is the average visitor, whether the photos used by Knights of Rizal are telephoto lenses. All of these questions of facts cannot be tried by this court,” he explained.

The DMCI lawyer also asked for the immediate lifting of the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the high court preventing further construction of the building.

Lazatin said the company has been incurring losses, which it may not be able to recover, since the issuance of the TRO.

“The construction workers have been out of work since the TRO. Only a few of them were absorbed in other DMCI projects. Other laborers are also affected, mostly paid on a daily basis. No work no pay. Some materials have also deteriorated. There’s most likely no recovery of the loss since petition has filed injunction,” Lazatin noted.

Lazatin also denied before the 15-man High Tribunal insinuations that it received special treatment from agencies that issued permits for the project. 

Lazatin’s arguments debunked the position of Solicitor General Florin Hilbay that DMCI’s building permits “are patently invalid.”

He noted that DMCI did not violate the height permit issued to it, considering that it has a maximum allowable height of 66 stories but availed only of 49 stories.     

ACIRC ASSOCIATE JUSTICE FRANCIS JARDELEZA HIGH TRIBUNAL JOSE RIZAL KNIGHTS OF RIZAL LAZATIN NATIONAL HISTORICAL COMMISSION OF THE PHILIPPINES NBSP PROJECT DEVELOPERS INC RIZAL RIZAL PARK
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