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OSG backs Torre de Manila demolition

Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - August 25, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The government yesterday backed the petition of Knights of Rizal before the Supreme Court (SC) seeking demolition of the Torre de Manila Condominium, which is said to have ruined the iconic sight line of the monument of national hero Jose Rizal in the park named after him.

In the fifth hearing on oral arguments, Solicitor General Florin Hilbay told the high court that the construction of the building violated Republic Act 10066 (National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009) and that the permits granted by the Manila City government to developer DMCI were invalid.

Hilbay alleged that the building was “an illegal construction, to the extent that it impairs the sightline of the Rizal monument.”

“The Rizal monument, as a cultural artifact protected by the Constitution and our heritage laws, is a visual phenomenon that exists as an integrated unit. This includes not only the bronze sculpture and the accompanying obelisk but also the ground and the space in which it is located,” he argued.

Hilbay said “one cannot therefore divorce the obelisk from the park in the same way that one cannot divorce the obelisk from the sightline. The physics of the Rizal monument is such that the obelisk, the bronze sculpture, and its sightline constitute a single piece of cultural heritage.”

Hilbay also said the city planning and development office (CPDO) had no authority to issue the zoning permit it issued.

“By the standards of Ordinance 8119, DMCI’s zoning permit is invalid because it goes way beyond the floor-to-area ratio,” he said.

DMCI’s permit was for floor-to-area ratio of 13 when the ordinance only allowed a ratio of four.

“Torre de Manila should have been entitled to a maximum of seven floors, its application was for 49 floors. This is 42 floors beyond the authority of the CPDO,” Hilbay said.

He said DMCI should have secured a variance or exception from the city council upon recommendation of the Manila Zoning Board of Adjustments Appeals, through the Committee on Housing, Urban Development and Resettlements as required under Section 60 of Ordinance 8119.

Because of this, Hilbay said the validity of the business and building permits of DMCI are also questionable.

With these grounds, the solicitor general asked the SC to order DMCI to demolish Torre de Manila and tap concerned national agencies to oversee the demolition.

ACIRC HILBAY JOSE RIZAL KNIGHTS OF RIZAL MANILA CITY MANILA CONDOMINIUM MANILA ZONING BOARD OF ADJUSTMENTS APPEALS NATIONAL CULTURAL HERITAGE ACT REPUBLIC ACT RIZAL SOLICITOR GENERAL FLORIN HILBAY
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