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Manila councilors seek recall of permits for condo

/ 10:22 PM July 25, 2012

Manila councilors have approved a resolution which pushes for the temporary suspension of the permits given to the developer of a controversial condominium project which allegedly threatens to mar the view of Rizal Park.

In particular, the city council asked Manila building official Melvin Balagot to temporarily recall—pending the completion of an investigation—the permits he issued to DMCI, the developer of the 40-story Torre de Manila condominium on Taft Avenue.

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Balagot, however, told the Inquirer that he could not comply with the councilors’ request because DMCI has not committed any violation of the building code, at least for now.

“The construction of the building has not even started so I have no grounds [for suspending] the permit,” Balagot said in a phone interview.

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“I can only enforce the National Building Code, nothing more, nothing less,” he added.

Earlier, the council called for the suspension of the project until an acceptable development design has been approved by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines in proper compliance with the agency’s standards and policy guidelines.

Councilor Don Juan “DJ” Bagatsing, who authored the resolution, explained that the council merely wanted to give people opposed to the project enough time to raise their objections before the local government acts on the matter.

“What we are simply seeking here is a true and open dialogue with the heritage groups and agencies and a revision of the project’s height design,” he told the Inquirer over the phone. “We are not hindering the advancement of the city, nor do we have anything against DMCI Homes.”

However, he questioned Balagot’s decision to approve the permits for DMCI despite an ongoing investigation being conducted into the matter by the city council. The councilor pointed out Balagot should have exercised “prudence” and waited for the council’s findings.

According to Balagot, he approved the permits for DMCI on July 5.

“Development is always good not unless it tramples on the sacred fundamental legacies of our Filipino identity and nationalism,” Bagatsing said. “The progress of a city cannot be measured alone by tall buildings, especially one which will undoubtedly stick out … like a sore thumb.”

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