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The Supreme Court has issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the construction of DMCI Homes’ controversial Torre de Manila condominium, which has been dubbed by netizens and heritage conservationists as the ”Rizal Monument photobomber” for destroying the line of sight of the national hero’s monument.
The decision has sparked a word war between former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and his successor, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, with the former saying the city council extorted money from DMCI to allow construction to continue.
But how did the Torre de Manila saga start? Here are the key events involving the controversial housing project:
JUNE 2012 – In the same month DMCI got a zoning permit from the Manila Zoning Board of Adjustments and Appeals (MZBAA) for the construction of the condominium, cultural heritage activist Carlos Celdran protested the plan, saying it will destroy the view of the Rizal Monument.
JULY 2012 – City building official Melvin Balagot granted DMCI Homes a building permit, saying the firm submitted all the necessary requirements.
However, in the same month, Manila city councilor Don Juan “DJ” Bagatsing drafted a resolution suspending the building permit issued by Balagot. This was approved by city council.
APRIL 2013 – Lim, however, vetoed the city council resolution stopping the condominium’s construction a month before the 2013 elections, while the council was on recess and officials were busy with their respective election campaigns. This prompted Celdran to revive his online petition against the building’s construction.
NOVEMBER 2013 – Months after Estrada’s election as city mayor, city councilor Bagatsing refiled the Lim-vetoed resolution, saying the building’s construction violates a zoning ordinance pertaining to floor area ratio and height restrictions within a University/Institution Cluster Zone.
The resolution suspended the condominium’s construction temporarily.
JANUARY 2014 – The MZBAA later approved DMCI Homes’ appeal, granting the firm an exemption to the local zoning laws.
Manila Councilor Joel Chua, chairman of the Oversight Committee of the Manila City council, said the taxes the city will earn from the condominium project can be used to pay Manila’s debts.
AUGUST 2014 – Senator Pia Cayetano joined the fray, filing a resolution emphasizing the need to review laws and policies governing the preservation of national and historical sites.
She later conducted an ocular inspection of the site. After her visit, she said the building violated zoning permits.
The senator said those who would 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.
SEPTEMBER 2014 – Knights of Rizal filed a petition before the Supreme Court asking that the construction be stopped.
OCTOBER 2014 – Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon appealed to Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to inhibit herself from the Torre de Manila case. He said he received information that Sereno’s husband, Mario Jose Sereno, previously worked in DMCI’s corporate planning office.
NOVEMBER 2014 – The SC included the National Museum (NM), National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) as respondents in the case.
JANUARY 2015 – The National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) issued a cease-and-desist order to stop the construction of Torre de Manila.
DMCI Homes, however, did not heed the cease-and-desist order, according to the NCCA.
FEBRUARY 2015 – Three months after the SC issued a resolution making NM, NHCP, and NCCA as respondents, the three agencies asked the high court to remove them as respondents.
JUNE 2015 – The high court finally issued a TRO temporarily halting the condominium’s construction.
Many contractual employees relying on the Torre de Manila construction are left without jobs.
DMCI Homes, for its part, said it will “vigorously pursue” legal remedies.
Text: Dharel Placido, ABS-CBNnews.com
This article has been re-published with permission from ABS-CBNnews.com.
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