DMCI chair: Nobody hit buildings near ‘Ka Andres’
The controversial Torre de Manila residential building—branded by critics as a photobomber for spoiling the view of the Rizal Monument—is an “urban solution and not a public nuisance,” the chief of project developer DMCI Holdings maintained.
And besides, nobody has complained about the buildings surrounding the Andres Bonifacio monument in Caloocan City, yet there’s a furor over one of the several high-rise structures near Dr. Jose Rizal’s shrine, DMCI chair and president Isidro Consunji said.
Consunji spoke of the condo project in a speech at the DMCI stockholders’ annual meeting on Wednesday, in what was apparently the first public and lengthiest defense of Torre coming from the company head himself.
He reiterated earlier DMCI statements saying the project did not violate any law, and that he was confident that his company would be vindicated in the Supreme Court (SC), which is hearing a petition filed by the Knights of Rizal (KoR) against Torre. The tribunal heard KoR’s oral arguments on July 21 and will hear DMCI’s side on Aug. 4.
‘We followed all rules’
“To build the project, we followed all the rules and complied with all the relevant laws. Even the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, whose mandate is to promote and conserve the history and cultural heritage of the Philippines, cleared Torre de Manila after determining it can’t possibly obstruct the front view of the Rizal Monument,” Consunji said.
“There’s also no law that regulates and defines visual corridor,” he added.
Since the tower is more than 800 meters behind the monument, he said, people could still take pictures without having it in the background. “Therefore, to say that Torre de Manila violated heritage laws or is going to obstruct the Rizal Monument is unfounded and reckless.”
The 49-story residential tower, Consunji said, would address the need for middle-income housing and urban renewal in Manila. The tower is a project of DMCI Homes, the property arm of DMCI Holdings.
“If you look at the monument of Bonifacio in Caloocan, it is full of buildings around it [but] nobody is commenting on it,” Consunji said, referring to the rotunda landmark in northern Metro Manila depicting the leader of the Katipunan movement that rose against Spanish colonial rule.
During the open forum, one minority shareholder raised the possible impact the Torre case might have on the company’s reputation. Consunji said that if the project were to be stopped now, “e di lalong papangit (it’s going to be uglier).”
The company executive noted that the Knights petition was filed when the building was already nearing completion. The petition was filed in September 2014.
“We’re confident that the SC will uphold our position,” Consunji said, assuring the gathering.
He also pointed out that Torre, which was behind the former Jai Alai building, was not the first high-rise project in the area. The proposed 20-story Manila Hall of Justice was approved by the city government about 20 years ago but its construction did not push through.
“To say that Torre de Manila is the first high-rise there is not correct,” Consuni said. “Most of the negative publicity (against it) is fabricated. I will not mention in public why.”
In earlier statements, DMCI said it secured a zoning permit from the local government on June 19, 2012, to build 97,549 square meters of residential space in a 49-story structure.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.