July 21 oral arguments on Torre de Manila to proceed
MANILA, Philippines – Oral arguments on the controversial Torre de Manila condominium project will push through on Tuesday, July 21, with the Supreme Court (SC) yet to decide on the Solicitor General's request to reset the hearing.
In a post on its official Twitter account on Monday, July 20, the SC public information office said the magistrates are set to meet on Tuesday, and "will most likely act" on the motion of Solicitor General Florin Hilbay only then.
Until instructed otherwise, oral arguments in KoR v. DMCI on July 21 will proceed; action on SolGen request expected only on July 21.— SC PIO (Official) (@SCPh_PIO) July 20, 2015
Hilbay earlier asked the court to reschedule the July 21 oral arguments, citing his work with the Philippines' case against China before an international tribunal in The Hague.
The Solicitor General represents government respondents National Commission for Culture and the Arts, National Museum, and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines in the petition filed by the Knights of Rizal, a group created in honor of Philippine national hero Jose Rizal.
In its September 2014 petition, the group said the high-rise residential project should be demolished because it threatens the "visual dominance" of the Rizal Monument in Luneta Park.
The petitioners also said that Torre de Manila was built in bad faith and violated local zoning laws.
But DMCI Homes has defended its project, saying they obtained the proper documents and clearances to begin work on the condominium.
DMCI also reiterated that they did not violate heritage laws, and was even issued clearance by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines in November 2012.
In June 2015, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order, stopping construction on the project.
A first for SC
For the July 21 oral arguments, the SC will allow "non-interested parties" to comment on the issue through post-argument briefs.
It will be the first time the court invites representatives from the sectors of real estate, tourism, construction, architecture, engineering, and heritage conservation to "provide advice" on the controversial topic.
The High Tribunal also invited 3 members of the amici curiae (friends of the court) for the hearing: an expert on the National Building Code designated by the Department of Public Works and Highways; architect Emmanuel Cuntapay of the DPWH; and a representative from the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board.
Among other issues, the court will determine whether the constitutional mandate to conserve and protect cultural heritage and resources – such as the historic Rizal Monument – also extends to the preservation of its "prominence, dominance, vista points, vista corridors, sight lines and setting."
Magistrates will also determine the effect of its ruling on shrines and monuments that currently have towers in their line of sight, as well as the damage to be sustained by DMCI, its workers, investors, and buyers of the project in case the building is demolished.
The SC has put up a microsite containing the case pleadings and audio stream for the oral arguments, which is set to go live at 2 pm. – Rappler.com