IN a rare occasion, Malacañang and its erstwhile occupant—deposed president now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada—have one thing in common to laugh at.
Estrada and deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte on Saturday laughed off a proposal to rotate the Rizal Monument at the Luneta in Manila in a bid to resolve the controversy surrounding the construction of a high-rise condominium that purportedly ruins the view of the the iconic monument.
The suggestion was reportedly made by Manila 5th District Rep. Amado Bagatsing during a recent congressional hearing on the Torre de Manila issue.
“No comment,” Estrada said as he burst into laughter when reporters sought his reaction to Bagatsing’s so-called “win-win” formula.
“Saan haharap, sa Torre (Where will they make the monument face? Towards the tower?)?” he asked as he guffawed and shook his head.
Pressed on by reporters, Estrada said, “If I cannot say anything, I’d rather not say anything.”
In an interview with the government-run Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday, Valte giggled when asked about her reaction to Bagatsing’s proposal.
“Siguro hindi ho naman dapat yung monument ni Rizal yung galawin natin para lang umayos ho yung ano doon, di ba? Let’s leave the monument be (I think it’s not appropriate to mess up with the Rizal monument just to solve the problem there),” she said.
A petition calling for the demolition of the Torre de Manila is now pending before the Supreme Court.
The high court is scheduled to hold oral arguments on the issue on July 21.
During the hearing of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development last July 1, Bagatsing offered his so-called “win-win” solution.
He claimed that even historians questioned why the national hero’s statue was made to face the Manila Bay. He said the position of the monument may reinforce the intention of the Spanish colonizers that Rizal was shot in the back for being a traitor.
“Buti pa yung kalabaw, nakaharap sa siyudad. Bakit si Rizal, nakatalikod? (The carabao monument is in a better position for making it face the city. Why was Rizal made to turn his back against the city)?” the congressman asked as he referred to the statue of the carabao (water buffalo) – the national animal – which is across the Rizal monument.
The National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) is against Bagatsing’s proposal.
“Masama na nga ang tingin natin sa Torre de Manila, ihaharap nyo pa si Rizal sa kanya?” NCCA legal counsel Trixie Angeles said.