It's been dubbed an "eyesore" and the "national photo-bomber" by its opponents.
At 46 stories, Torre de Manila looms, even at a distance, over the Rizal Monument in Manila. Touted as a resort-inspired condominium by its developer, DMCI Homes, the one-tower project sits on a prime lot overlooking Manila's historical district. Its presence, however, has been said to stick out like a sore thumb, notably since the condominium now serves as the backdrop to the Rizal shrine.
The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) issued a cease and desist order (CDO) against the tower's construction in January. In response, DMCI filed a motion for reconsideration at the Makati Regional Trial Court on February 2. The petition was denied on February 10.
The NCCA's legal counsel, Trixie Angeles, confirmed that the case was reinstated several weeks ago, in May or June, before the Supreme Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order on the tower’s construction on June 16.
"This case has already been dismissed by the Makati Regional Trial Court earlier this year, but for some reason, DMCI filed an appeal and the case was revived again," said Angeles. "With the NCCA as a quasi-judicial body, the proper course should have been to file this in the Court of Appeals."
DMCI states that it followed legal procedures for the project; furthermore, the government approved their permits and exemptions for the development.
DMCI's petition states that "[t]he issuance of the CDO is a wrongful act that caused undue injury to [DMCI and DMCI-Project Developers Inc. (DMCI-PDI)], both of whom are entitled to the completion of a lawful construction project that complies with all the requirements of the law."
"By issuing the CDO motu propio on the supposed ground that Torre de Manila allegedly 'destroys or significantly alters the landscape of the Rizal Monument and Rizal Park,' respondents imposed their own subjective standard of beauty and controlled DMCI-PDI's use of its property without due process of law and without payment of just compensation to DMCI-PDI," reads the petition.
The petition demands P27 million from the NCCA for damages brought about by the CDO. The petition also seeks to have a temporary restraining order (TRO) filed against the CDO.
In a phone interview with Inquirer, Angeles stated, "They want to collect damages from us when in fact, they never stopped despite the CDO we issued. It's ridiculous and we will definitely oppose it."
"First of all, they did not stop construction despite the CDO we issued. How can they claim damages on their part when they did not stop construction? Second, the Supreme Court issued a TRO against the construction of the condominium. How can they now prove that we are still liable to pay for damages when the SC has issued a TRO?" said Angeles.
DMCI has defended the project, claiming that the tower doesn't break any laws on heritage. The company has pointed out, likewise, that the tower doesn't obstruct the view of the Rizal shrine.