MANILA -- Senator Pia Cayetano on Thursday urged the public to file a case against the ongoing construction of the controversial Torre de Manila condominium, which is under fire for allegedly destroying the view of the Jose Rizal monument in Luneta.
Cayetano, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts, and Culture, told dzMM that she was surprised at what she saw when she visited the park on Wednesday.
"Yung view mo ng monumento ni Rizal, talagang nakabalandra dun 'yung Torre De Manila. Parang yung buong skyline 'yun na 'yung building ng Torre De Manila eh," Cayetano said.
She added that she was more disappointed with the condominium's construction upon knowing more about the monument's historical and cultural significance.
After the hearing on Wednesday, Cayetano said they found that despite Torre de Manila violating the city's zoning requirements, it was still given a zoning permit.
However, the zoning requirements had nothing to do with cultural and historical heritage.
Cayetano also admitted that despite the existence of laws protecting the country's cultural and historical treasures, the issue of "vista" or panoramic sightline is not clear.
"The lack of specific laws that say 'ikaw government agency ang kumilos' should not be a deterrent to implement what the Constitution provides which is to protect our cultural heritage," she said.
"Lumalabas na dahi-dahilan ng ilang agencies at pati ng (Manila) council is wala namang batas na nagsasabing 'within how many meters ay hindi pwede magpatayo ng building'. Pero with your own eyes, makikita mo naman na napakasama at napakapangit tingnan."
Cayetano believes the public can file a case against the construction company.
"At present, agencies and people can move, can act based on doon sa mga lumabas na evidence sa hearing, they can use that," she said, noting that their investigation is done "in aid of legislation."
The senator added that those who will file a case against DMCI Homes can use the "builder in good faith" and the "builder in bad faith" argument.
A builder in good faith is someone who starts the construction of a building or a house without knowing any flaw in the land title or permits.
"Good faith 'yan. May pinanghahawakan kang contract of lease man 'yan o title, wala kang alam na may problema 'yan. Alam mo maayos 'yang pinasok mo, builder in good faith ka," Cayetano said.
If a builder is proven to have started the construction in "good faith", the company may receive monetary compensation in case the Court orders the cancellation or suspension of the project.
In the case of Torre de Manila, the company was aware that there are problems in its zoning permits, Cayetano said.
"May hawak nga silang permit, pero alam naman nila, na may violation sila. At wala naman silang pinanghahawakang document to show na na-address 'yung violations na 'yun, especially in 2012," she added.