Demolish Torre de Manila, solon tells DMCI | Inquirer News

Demolish Torre de Manila, solon tells DMCI

/ 04:03 PM June 23, 2015

D.M. Consunji, better ask your construction arm to demolish Torre de Manila, which one lawmaker described as “the Ugly Giant,” from the view of Rizal Park and refund condominium unit buyers or risk being blacklisted from doing business with the government.

That was the urgent call from the chairman of the House of Representatives Metro Manila Development committee Tuesday as he expressed dismay at the desecration of the national shrine.


In a press conference on Tuesday, Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo said D.M. Consunji Inc. (DMCI) Homes “blatantly disregarded” the cease-desist order of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) issued in January and only halted construction when the Supreme Court gave out a temporary restraining order (TRO).

Castelo said Torre de Manila is “obviously a desecration of national monument.”


In an ambush interview, Castelo said the DMCI should voluntarily demolish the structure, a 49-storey condominium building said to be disrupting the line of view of the Jose Rizal monument.

“The public relations nightmare of the DMCI will continue if they would not totally remove it. I advise them to voluntarily dismantle it. After all, it would be a big contribution to preserve our cultural heritage and national patrimony,” Castelo said.

Castelo said once the Supreme Court issues an injunction to permanently halt the construction, DMCI should refund the property buyers who bought condominium units, lest it risks being blacklisted from doing business with government.

The construction arm of DMCI is also part of various big ticket public-private partnership projects with government, such as the P15.86 billion Ninoy Aquino International Airport Expressway, two sections of the P26.656 billion Metro Manila Skyway project, the P2.27 billion LRT-2 East extension project, among others.

“We hope the Supreme Court will be able to come up with an injunction so the TRO would be permanent… We’ll ask the DMCI to refund sa mga buyers nila … and the HLURB (Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board) to invalidate the license to sell that was granted to them,” Castelo said.

“If (DMCI) fails to do this, we’ll ask the government to strictly permanently ban DMCI from doing any business with the government,” he added.

Castelo said the Metro Manila development committee has sent invitation to former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and his predecessor Alfredo Lim next week to attend the House probe on Torre de Manila to find out who granted the building and zoning permits to DMCI.


Estrada had blamed Lim for granting DMCI the permit and lifting the height limit of the building during his term, allowing DMCI to push through with the 49-storey building that was originally planned at only 19 floors.

Lim also vetoed a city ordinance that would have limited the height of the condominium. Ordinance 8310 authored by Councilor DJ Bagatsing prohibits structures that mar the line of sight or backdrops of any historical or cultural site or monument, or “diminish [their] dominance and dignity or aesthetically desecrate [their] frontal or natural perspective.”

Under Estrada’s term, meanwhile, the Manila city council issued a January 2014 resolution ratifying the exemption granted by the Manila Zoning Board of Adjustments and Appeal to DMCI for the Torre de Manila project. Aside from lifting the height limit of the proposed condominium, it also affirmed the validity of the permits given to DMCI during Lim’s administration.

Lim had accused Estrada of receiving millions of pesos in bribes in exchange for giving DMCI the green light to build the condominium.

Castelo said the House probe would be in aid of legislation to amend the law and give more teeth on the powers of the NCCA. He added that the probe would not serve as a “finger-pointing expedition.”

“Our preliminary study is to put more teeth sa NCCA (since) they do not have police power. We will also include in our report a provision that would disallow any exemption dun sa zoning regulation kapag ito ay katabi ng isang national heritage site,” Castelo said.

For his part, Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe called the Torre De Manila an “ugly giant” that must be demolished.

“Gusto ba natin na ang susunod na henerasyon ay tayo ang sisihin dahil wala tayong ginawa dyan at bawat nagpapa-picture o video cam, ang nakikita nila ay isang napakapangit na dambuhala sa likod ng bantayong ng ating pambansang bayani?” Batocabe said.

“Magiging pambansang kahihiyan yan sa ating henerasyon,” he added.

Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez added that the issue over Torre de Manila should apply in other historical sites, such as the mausoleum of President Manuel Quezon, the first President of the Commonwealth period, that is located beside the city carnival or “perya” called “Circle of Fun” at the Quezon City Memorial Circle.

Gutierrez said the Supreme Court decision on the fate of Torre de Manila will be crucial in the implementation of the Republic Act 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, the law that strengthened the NCCA in protecting, preserving and promoting the country’s cultural heritage sites.

“Importante ang punto ng application sa ibang monumento. Relatively bago ang RA 1066… Isa itong magiging pangunahing test case sa NCCA. With respect sa heritage sites, tingin ko importante na bantayan ang magiging decision ng SC rito,” Gutierrez said. AC

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