PNoy refuses to take sides in Torre de Manila case

Dharel Placido,

Posted at Sep 08 2015 03:16 PM | Updated as of Sep 08 2015 11:17 PM

MANILA – President Benigno Aquino III wants the concerns and rights of the parties in the Torre de Manila case addressed and respected.

In a round table discussion with Inquirer journalists and editors on Tuesday, President Aquino said he sees merit in the petition of the Order of the Knights of Rizal against the construction of Torre de Manila, which critics say destroys the vista of the Rizal Monument.

The president cited the case of Paris, France, whose locals are allergic to towering structures that destroy the old vibe of the city.

"I went to Paris not too long ago and in Paris they have a rule to preserve the old Paris,” he said.

''I see merit with the idea that there should be that backdrop to Rizal’s Monument, to preserve what we have always known.''

However, the president said the rights of the property developer, DMCI, must be acknowledged as well.

“It seems they went through all of the processes. Zoning is a mandate of the local government. How do we balance the two?” he said.

“Somebody who can come up with the correct solution that addresses the rights of all and the concerns of the country in terms of preserving the sanctity of the people we are supposed to be emulating is an endeavor that we should have gotten into. That’s why we await how the courts will decide as to how to balance each and everyone’s rights.”

The Supreme Court has finished oral arguments on the controversial case.

Among the points raised by the petitioner and the Office of the Solicitor General was that the sight line of the monument is part of its physical structure which should be protected by the government.

DMCI lawyer Vince Lazatin, however, argued that the constitutional provisions protecting heritage sites only cover the cultural structures themselves and not the background or their surroundings.

Even though President Aquino noted that DMCI seemed to have gone through the proper processes, SC Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza, during the oral arguments, said the rule of law was not followed when DMCI belatedly applied for a variance from the Manila Zoning Board of Adjustments that allowed it to construct a building with a maximum floor-area ratio exceeding 4.