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Solons inspect Torre, assail nonstop work

/ 06:03 AM June 12, 2015
NONSTOP RISE The controversial Torre de Manila condo project in Manila, here seen from Rizal Park, got a surprise visit recently from House members assailing its developer’s defiance of a cease and desist order issued by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Photo taken on June 11. (See story on Page A26) MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

NONSTOP RISE  The controversial Torre de Manila condo project in Manila, here seen from Rizal Park, got a surprise visit recently from House members assailing its developer’s defiance of a cease and desist order issued by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Photo taken on June 11.  MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

House members on Thursday railed at property developer DM Consunji Inc. (DMCI) for its “blatant disregard” for a government order stopping the construction of a condominium project in Manila, noting how the rising structure had permanently marred the view of Rizal Park, one of the venues of Independence Day celebrations on Friday.

According to Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo, he and two other colleagues recently made a “surprise visit” at the work site of the controversial Torre de Manila on Taft Avenue.
He said they saw for themselves the firm’s continued defiance of the cease and desist order (CDO) issued five months ago by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

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Akbayan party-list Rep. Ibarra Gutierrez and Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe joined him in the visit, Castelo said.

“DMCI is continuing its construction in the absence of a TRO (temporary restraining order) on the CDO. This is a blatant disregard of lawful order and total desecration of a shrine as we pay homage to our national hero to celebrate Independence Day (today),” said Castelo in a text message.

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“It is unconscionable that work continues despite the CDO. Those responsible must be made to account to the fullest extent of the law,” Gutierrez added.

The Inquirer sought DMCI’s comment through its public relations representative, who has not sent reply at press time. In previous statements, DMCI maintained that the NCCA-issued CDO had no bearing since only a Supreme Court order could stop work on the 46-story Torre project.

Castelo said the House committee on Metro Manila development will help the NCCA enforce its order, through its lawyer Trixie Angeles, by providing its personnel with “police assistance.”

According to Angeles, DMCI complied with the CDO only on the first two days after it was served at the construction site and at the offices of the DMCI. “It surreptitiously resumed construction after that,” the lawyer said.

The clamor against Torre, which began in 2012 through an online campaign initiated by cultural activist Carlos Celdran, is now the subject of three court cases.

The first case involved the petition filed in the Supreme Court by the Knights of Rizal, which wants the condominium demolished. Another was the administrative case filed by the NCCA against DMCI, and the third was the case filed by  DMCI questioning the NCCA’s CDO.

The controversy has also led to inquiries in the House and Senate. In a House hearing in February, DMCI officials invited to the proceedings did not attend and only sent two lawyers who, when questioned, claimed they could not speak with authority on the status of the Torre construction.

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TAGS: cease and desist order, condo construction, DMCI, House, Legislators, Manila, NCCA, Rizal Mounument, Torre de Manila, Winston Castelo
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