Tale of 2 mayors on Torre de Manila issue
Former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and other former city officials have committed gross misconduct in granting the zoning and bilding permit for DMCI, developer of the controversial Torre de Manila, without complying with the requirements set under the Zoning Ordinance.
During the part 4 of the oral arguments, Atty. Jose Alberto Flaminiano, City Legal Officer of Manila, said granting the zoning permit with exceptions without compliance with the law is a “serious offense” punishable by dismissal from service.
Former City Planning and Development Officer Resty Rebong on June 19, 2012 issued the zoning permit which include, among others, the variance or exception from the floor area ratio requirement of 4 in favor of DMCI.
Rebong reasoned out that he issued the variance because height limitations were suspended by Mayor Lim. With such suspension, the National Building Code which has no limit on the floor area ratio applies.
Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza questioned Flaminiano on who gave Rebong the authority to grant the variance without complying with the requirements set under the Zoning Ordinance.
“Even a building official is allowed on his own to bend [the requirements under the law] and, out of the blue, grant an exception [to DMCI]…You cannot give a functionary the power to override the [Zoning] Ordinance; otherwise, that will be violating the rule of law,” Jardeleza said.
“DMCI cannot just say ‘because I have the Zoning Permit, I followed the rule of law,’” Jardeleza added.
Aside from the Zoning Permit, a Building Permit was issued in favor of DMCI in 2012 to which, Flaminiano said, is tantamount to acting beyond the scope of authority, which could cause the former officials who issued the permit an administrative and even a criminal liability.
Flaminiano said he talked to Rebong about the Torre de Manila case, and Rebong told him that Lim does not want to make it difficult for the developers to get the permit.
He said Lim’s instruction is “wag na idaan sa council na yan para hindi na mahirapan ang mga developers. I-process na lang ang mga papeles.”
(Don’t let it pass through that council so that the developers won’t have a hard time. Just process the paperwork.)
However, the permits issued to DMCI in 2012 were ratified and confirmed on Jan. 16, 2014 by the City of Manila.
Flaminiano said “DMCI sought clarification [on Dec. 18, 2013] and expressed willingness to conform necessary steps to comply with appeals process under the Manila Zoning Ordinance.”
“After being assured of DMCI’s compliance with conditions meant to mitigate adverse effects of excess floor area ratio, they sought the city council’s approval for variance in the Torre project,” Flaminiano said.
Architect Danilo Lacuna, Jr., the current city planning and development officer, added that current Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada instructed him to assist DMCI in the process of complying with the requirements under the Zoning Ordinance to get an exemption.
“He [Erap] mentioned [that] he wanted to help the developer go through the process…It is the thrust of the Mayor to encourage investors to invest in the city,” Lacuna said.
Lim and Estrada are at loggerheads over the Torre de Manila issue.
Estrada called Lim a “liar” and a “forgetful old man” as he sought to deflect the criticism the city government has been getting over the project.
“He wants us to undergo a lie detector test. I think he has Alzheimer’s disease. It’s clear that his planning officer and building officials signed the zoning and building permits, respectively, in 2012 during his term,” he added. Tetch Torres-Tupas/JE&AC
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
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.