Probe urged into DMCI’s Torre condo near Rizal Park
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Pia Cayetano has asked the Senate to look into the raging debate over the construction of a 46-storey condominium building across the Rizal Park in Manila.
In filing Senate Resolution No.824 Wednesday, Cayetano said the construction of Torre de Manila does not only destroy the vista of the heritage site, but it also “accords little respect to the memory of our national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, and the ideals he had fought for.”
The Manila City Council, after investigating and issuing resolutions against the construction of a condominium that critics say would mar the sightline of the Rizal Monument, has adopted the zoning board’s recommendation approving the project.
The Torre de Manila project drew controversy after tour guide and activist Carlos Celdran launched an online campaign against it in 2012. Celdran warned that the structure being built on Taft Avenue would stick out of the horizon and ruin the view of the Rizal Monument.
In a statement Thursday, Pia Cayetano, chairperson of the Senate committee on education, arts and culture, said the Rizal Park and Monument is not only an artistic-cultural icon and a famous tourist site, “but a sacred site” also.
The monument, she said, is “an important symbol of our national hero and the freedom he fought for.”
She noted that the monument’s iconic bronze statue, called the Motto Stella (Guiding Star), was unveiled on December 30, 1913.
It was declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum to mark the monument’s centennial anniversary last year.
The resolution calls for a review of laws and policies governing the preservation of national and historical sites, following the public opposition and online protests triggered by the decision of the Manila City government to exempt the construction of Torre de Manila by developer David M. Consunji Inc. (DMCI) Homes from local zoning laws.
“Rizal Park is not just a site where Jose Rizal was shot and where his remains are interred, it has [also] been witness to momentous events in our history,” it said.
The resolution then cited various statutes and laws that mandate the government to protect and preserve of the country’s historic sites and national-cultural treasures.
Among them were Article XIV, Section 15 of the Constitution, which states that ‘The State shall conserve, promote, and popularize the nation’s historical and cultural heritage and resources, as well as artistic creations; Republic Act No.4846, otherwise known as the ‘Cultural Properties Preservation and Protection Act,’ which defines a ‘National Cultural Treasure’ as ‘a unique object found locally, possessing outstanding historical, cultural, artistic and/or scientific value which is highly significant and important to this country and nation’; and Republic Act No. 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, which lays down guidelines for Local Government Units (LGUs) in maintaining a heritage zone, including the preservation of the ‘appearance of streets, parks, monuments…as close to their appearance at the time the area was of most importance to Philippine history as determined by the National Historical Institute.’
Cayetano had earlier clarified that it was not her intention to disrupt the business community, as she stressed the need to ensure compliance with existing laws on preserving national heritage sites.
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