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Would Jose Rizal mind Torre de Manila?

/ 08:38 PM September 01, 2015

Would Dr. Jose Rizal mind the construction of the 49-story Torre de Manila? The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) believes the national hero won’t mind.

“Jose Rizal would not want to be glorified after his death. [The] national hero would be confounded,” De La Salle University College of Law Dean Jose Manuel Diokno, counsel for NHCP, said during the last oral argument on the petition filed by the Knights of Rizal against Torre de Manila.

Diokno said Rizal only asked for a stone or a fence.


NHCP, in a November 2012 letter to then Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, said the Torre de Manila will not obstruct the front view of the Rizal Monument because it is outside the historical site.

With the letter, the City of Manila has ratified all the permits issued to DMCI making way to push through with the construction of the controversial condominium unit.

High Court Justices also took note of the dying wish of the national hero.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said “his (Rizal’s) dying wish was to face east but the captain of the guard said no so he died facing west.”

“Now, Rizal is still facing west. We still deny him his dying wish. He wanted to be buried in Paang Bundok (now the North Cemetery) and buried in an unmarked tomb. But we did not follow his wish. We still deny him that wish, correct,” Carpio asked to which Diokno said “yes.”

Associate Justice Marvic Leonen added that “when the Constitution says conserve and promote historical heritage, it also means that we should actually grant Rizal his dying wish so that our people know that our heroes should be humble, that our leaders should not have billboards, should not have markers, should not be ‘epal’ because that is somebody that we should emulate.”

“Therefore, what we are fighting for in this case is really a monument which Rizal did not want,” Leonen said.

Contrary to the position of petitioners and the office of the solicitor general, which was supposed to represent NHCP in the case, Dean Diokno argued that developer DMCI Property Development Inc. did not violate the law in building the 49-story building.“Physical integrity refers only to the material body of the monument. Constitutional provisions do not include protections of sight lines. Review of international charters on heritage conservation does not include sight lines and there is a need to review words,” he argued.


Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, on the other hand, asked how other cities are treating the monuments if there are any in their area, like the Bonifacio Shrine in Caloocan, which is facing the LRT 1 station and being surrounded by malls, the EDSA Shrine, which was built in front a mall and the MRT and the Ninoy Aquino monument in Makati, which is crowded with high-rise buildings.

For the Bonifacio Shrine, NHCP Chair Maria Serena Diokno said “there are ugly billboards and the LRT hovers above it. Local government of Caloocan is aware of the concerns.”

With regard to the Aquino monument, the NHCP chair said “the buildings were there before Senator Aquino was assassinated and the monument was erected. Is that fitting? If the people of the city do not find it objectionable, if they think they can live with that, they do not see that the monument is denigrated by the buildings around, that is the decision in Makati.”

About the EDSA Shrine, NHCP Chair Diokno said she herself was taken aback when it was built next to a mall and the MRT.

“But we have not received a complaint. Does it look pretty. I am sure many would say it does not look pretty,” she said.

NHCP Chair Diokno was then asked to take the podium. She passed the issue on legality of the permits for the buildings to the city
government, saying her office’s approval was only recommendatory.“The property of Torre De Manila is not part of Rizal Park and well beyond. NHCP has been very strict on constructions on the park. But the property being constructed is well outside, 450 meters from Taft Avenue where legal buffer zone is 5 meters,” she explained.“Therefore, it was very clear to the Board, that any decision is outside the jurisdiction of the NHCP that had to be decided based on enactment by the LGU (local government unit). NHCP didn’t have such authority and we went back to our guidelines, which say that there must be an enactment,” Diokno explained further.

Sereno, for her part, cited the Ninoy Aquino monument at Ayala triangle in Makati and the Edsa Shrine of Our Lady
of Peace.

Diokno said she herself was puzzled why there was no similar objection to the construction of buildings around those historical sites.

“The practice is every town or municipality should take into account important landmarks and structures. I myself was taken aback that a mall was built beside the (Edsa Shrine), but no one has complained,” she stressed.

The SC concluded the oral arguments after six hearings. The parties were ordered to submit their respective memorandum in 20 days before the high court resolves the case. Tetch Torres-Tupas/

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