Torre case: Carpio questions power of city council to assume executive function
THERE is “something terribly wrong” with the business model in Manila when its council assumes the power of the city Mayor to approve applications of business developers in putting up buildings or condominiums in the area, a Supreme Court Associate Justice said.
During Tuesday’s oral argument on the Torre de Manila case, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio asked why do every developer who wants to build a building or condominium in Manila has to go through the City Council and ask for a Zoning Ordinance to be allowed an exception from the floor-area ratio (FAR) requirement under the Zoning Ordinance.
“Every developer will have to get a variance (exception from the FAR) because it doesn’t make sense to follow FAR,” Carpio said adding that land in Manila is so expensive that a developer will lose money if they comply with FAR 4 and build a two story condominium unit on a 1,000-square-meter lot.
“Isn’t that sad,” Carpio asked.
“Is the Ordinance invalid because the Executive function is exercised by the Legislative body? What is the role of the City Mayor now? You only recommend to the [City] Council, the Zoning Board will just recommend it. [But] it was supposed to be the function of the Mayor. There is something terribly wrong,” he added.
Torre de Manila is in hot water for allegedly violating the Zoning Ordinance for building a 49 story condominium which was in violation of the Zoning Ordinance.
With more than 5,000 land area, following the Zoning Ordinance requirement of FAR 4 and land occupancy of 60 percent, Torre de Manila should only be at least 18-story high.
But Carpio said looking at the buildings in Manila, most have constructed without following what is stated under the Zoning Ordinance.
“If you look around Manila, standalone residential condominium buildings, it’s always more than FAR 4 and the buildable area is to the edge of the property. Looking at commercial buildings in the last 10 years, they are all variances…So, the rule in Manila is variance and exception which is never followed is FAR 4,” Carpio added.
DMCI, developer of Torre de Manila, insisted that they have secured the necessary permits and licenses from the city government of Manila and other concerned government agencies before it proceeded with the construction of the condominium building.
The high court last June has issued a temporary restraining order stopping the construction of the Torre de Manila while holding oral arguments on the dispute.
Carpio, along with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justices Bienvenido Reyes, Jose Perez and Mariano del Castillo, voted against the majority decision granting the injunction saying it should not be issued without the benefit of an oral argument.
It would be recalled that the Knights of Rizal asked the SC to order a stop to the construction of the Torre de Manila, adding that allowing it to continue would be the “worst precedent imaginable” to devalue historical landmarks in the country.
The group also said the condominium’s developer acted in bad faith and violated zoning ordinances of the city government of Manila aside from existing guidelines on monuments when it proceeded with the construction of the controversial building.
The group also noted that the Rizal Monument has been declared as a National Cultural Treasure and as such is entitled to the full protection of the law.
Aside from zoning ordinances, the building, the petitioner said, also violates the National Historical Commission of the Philippines’ “Guidelines on Monuments Honoring National heroes, Illustrious Filipinos and Other Personages,” which mandate that historic monuments and landmarks should assert a visual “dominance” over the surroundings.
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