SC stops construction of 'Rizal photobomber' condo

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 16 2015 03:53 PM | Updated as of Jun 17 2015 02:59 AM

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered DMCI Project Developers, Inc. to stop the construction and development of its 46-storey Torre De Manila condominium project along Taft Avenue, Manila.

Voting 8-5 during the resumption of its regular en banc sessions on Tuesday, the high court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) in favor of petitioner, Order of the Knights of Rizal, which filed their petition in September 2014.

SC Public Information Office (PIO) chief Atty. Theodore Te said those who voted to issue the TRO "even without oral arguments" are the following magistrates: Presbitero Velasco, Jr., Arturo Brion, Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Lucas Bersamin, Martin Villarama Jr., Jose Mendoza, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, and Francis Jardeleza.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Mariano Del Castillo, Jose Perez, and Bienvenido Reyes, meantime, voted not to issue the TRO before the conduct of oral arguments.

Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta and Marvic Leonen were unable to vote because they are on official leave.

The high court set oral arguments on the case on June 30, at 2 pm.

The Knights of Rizal filed the petition, alleging that the Torre De Manila project violates the constitutional provision on the conservation and promotion of the country's historical and cultural heritage; Republic Act (RA) No. 4846, also known as the Cultural Properties Preservation and Protection Act; and RA No. 10066, also known as the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.

The petition also argued that the project violated the Manila Zoning Ordinance and is an eye sore on the Dr. Jose Rizal national monument at the Luneta Park, which is a kilometer away.

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts and concerned citizens have also said that the building, once completed, will devalue surrounding historical landmarks, including the Rizal monument.

Among those who have criticized DMCI is cultural activist and Manila tourism consultant Carlos Celdran, who urged the public to boycott the construction firm for showing disrespect to the country's iconic historical monument.

DMCI has defended the development of the controversial condominium project, saying it obtained all the required permits and approvals.

It added that the structure is "almost one kilometer away from the monument and even a bit on the right side."

“In effect, their claim of ‘photobomb’ was photoshopped. It was a success as far as getting the public to believe their propaganda, but it was at the expense of truth," DMCI earlier said.