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Solicitor General pushes for demolition of Torre de Manila

Solicitor General Florin Hilbay.
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -- The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) is pushing for the demolition of Torre de Manila, the so-called "National Photobomber" of Rizal Monument in Luneta Park, Manila.

In a 46-page memorandum, signed by Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, representing the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the National Museum, the OSG asked the Supreme Court (SC) to order DMCI Homes to demolish the high-rise condominium for it was built in bad faith.

"Wherefore, premises, considered, it is respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court to: ....Order respondent DMCI to demolish Torre De Manila, at its own expense, or to Issue a Writ of Mandamus to respondent City of Manila to cause the demolition of the Torre de Manila, at DMCI's expense," the memorandum said.

Likewise, the OSG also asked the SC to "issue a writ of continuing mandamus to respondents NHCP (National Historical Commission of the Philippines) and NCCA to (a) oversee the demolition of the Torre de Manila; (b) prescribe for the conservation and preservation of the Rizal Monument in coordination with the National Museum; and (c) submit quarterly reports on the progress of the execution of the Honorable Court's judgment in this case."

Hilbay said that the SC must also protect the sightline of the Rizal Monument since Rizal Park is legally protected.

The OSG argued that Torre de Manila was an illegal construction when the zoning and building permits of DMCI were issued in violation of the law, particularly Manila Ordinance No. 8119.

Section 63 of the Manila Zoning Ordinance provides that in cases of variances and exceptions, land developers shall secure zoning permit from the Sangguniang Panglungsod as per recommendation from the Manila Zoning Board of Adjustments and Appeals (MZBAA), through the Committee on Housing, Urban Development and Resettlement prior to any construction.

The SC itself noticed that the "variance" for the approval of the building was only in 2014 instead of 2012 when the construction started.

SC Associate Justice Marvic F. Leonen noted that on June 19, 2012, there was no resolution from the Manila City Council that approved the variance.

"In November 2012 there was no variance approval. When DMCI was building the building, there was no approved variance. And only in 2014, when the variance was approved," he said.