Chief Justice eyes DMCI compensation

BUILDING IN LIMBO The almost finished Torre de Manila towers behind the Rizal Monument at Manila’s Rizal Park. PHOTO BY BONG RANES

The almost finished Torre de Manila towers behind the Rizal Monument at Manila’s Rizal Park. PHOTO BY BONG RANES

Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno again showed her bias for DMCI, owner of the Torre de Manila condominium tagged as the “national photobomber” at the Rizal shrine by raising the issue of paying “just compensation” to be given the real estate company if the controversial building is demolished.

This came to light after The Manila Times got hold of Sereno’s letter to Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza, the ponente of the case, where she enumerated “issues” that should be tackled by the court in its en banc deliberations and during oral arguments on the case.

“The Chief Justice requests the following issues to be kindly included in the advisory: Procedural; 1. What is the legal basis for the remedies sought by petitioner;* 2. Whether or not the compulsory condemnation, or possible expropriation, of the building is a matter of judicial prerogative that this court must adjudicate or a matter to be resolved in a dialogue amongst relevant national and local agencies of the government,” Sereno said.

“What is the total damage to be sustained by private respondents [DMCI], including the workers, the subcontractors, the investors, and the buyers of the project, in case the building is demolished?” she added.

Sereno even put a footnote quoting “Article III, Section 9 of the 1987 Constitution [as it provides]that private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.”

The document, dated June 23, 2015, bore the marginal note “By Authority of the Chief Justice” and was signed by Sereno’s staff head, Uribe Crisostomo.

Supreme Court sources criticized the Chief Justice for displaying her partiality to DMCI.

Sereno earlier turned down proposals that she inhibit from the case because her husband, Mario Jose Sereno, was once connected with Dacon Corp., a company also owned by the Consunjis. David Consunji is the chairman of DMCI.

“Kapit-tuko si Meilou [nickname of Sereno]sa Torre de Manila case. Ayaw na ngang mag-inhibit sa case dahil sa mister niya, eto naman ngayon at gusto agad ipasok ang idea na bigyan ng just compensation ang DMCI [Meilou is clinging to the case. She doesn’t want to inhibit because of her husband, now she even wants DMCI to get just compensation],” a source told The Manila Times.

Another SC source questioned Sereno’s move to include in the advisory the payment of “just compensation” to DMCI despite the fact that the property shall not be taken for “public use.”

“How can there be an expropriation issue, the property is absolutely not for public use. If ever there will be payment of just compensation, [that case)]should be with the lower court, not with the Supreme Court,” the SC insider said.

The issue of just compensation was not mentioned in the advisories of Jardeleza and Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes, who have listed down issues that should be tackled during the oral arguments set for July 21.

Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, however, asked the SC to give him until August 15 to submit his position paper and “another 30 days from July 21 to prepare for the oral arguments.”

Last month, the High Court stopped DMCI Project Developers Inc. from continuing with the construction of the 46-story Torre de Manila as it upheld a request for a temporary restraining order (TRO) of the Order of the Knights of Rizal.

Eight justices voted to issue a TRO—Presbitero Velasco, Arturo Brion, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Lucas Bersamin, Martin Villarama, Jose Mendoza, Estela Bernabe and Jardeleza.

Those who opposed the issuance of a TRO were Sereno and Associate Justices Reyes, Antonio Carpio, Mariano del Castillo and Jose Perez.

Justice Diosdado Peralta and Marvic Leonen were on leave when the voting was held.


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  1. Preserve the skyline of Rizal park just as Paris banned skyscrapers after Tour Montparnasse was built.

  2. DMCI have the right for proper compensation if they want to demolished the building. All proper documents has been submitted prior to the construction of the building. Sobra naman ang nag petition na demolished ito just of this Rizal Monument. We are on the space age now and we should not be so sentimental for the subject. Hindi naman Dios yan si Rizal and why not go with the one who could up-lift our life of living?

    • siegmund garcia on

      If only DMCI followed the seize and desist order, they compensation that would cost the Filipino people would be lesser. Tsk..

  3. Nenita Moreno Rafinan on

    I think they must gave the blame to the one who issue the permit, or the zoning permit. If they make firm that they can’t gave permit because they will encounter problems, it won’t happend! I am very sure may under the table naman iyan. Kaya dpat lang talaga na very strict when implementing guilines & rules. Eh! ngayon, marami ng gastos ang DMCI sa totoo lang parang unfair naman tlaga na basta na lang iyan gigibain, na walng compensation talaga. Kaya sana for the future maging aral na din iyan.

    • Nenita Moreno Rafinan on

      For me i am not for the CJ Maria Lourdes Sereno or for whatever whoever, this is my own opinion; I do understand CJ Sereno she is not biased, she is using the 1987 Constitution.Sinusunod tlaga niya ang batas, kung ano ang nakasulat ganoon ang gusto niyang i-apply at pag-aralan. Article 111; Section 9 (as it provides) that property shall not taken for public use without just compensation.May ang-comment hindi daw “public use”, public use iyan dahil ang gusto nga alisin ang Torre de Manila para clear ang monument ni Rizal para sa mamamyan+ tourist of course. Ikaw ba? ex; may property ka, sabi ng gobyerno gagamitin namin iyan for public; ppayag ka ba na gibain na lang na di ka babayaran??? So i think CJ Sereno is not biased, she is correct. Whom to blame is the city Hall of Manila, kung sino nagbigay ng permit, dpat sila mag-share ng icompensate sa DMCI, not only the govt. as a whole.

  4. This goes to show our people who has released the land for construction of the building did not have clue what are ALL the requirements and implications. Equally DMCI has not identified all the risks involved in construction of this building. They probably thought they could bribe their way to constructing this building. I am one of those OFW who was approached by DMCI to buy unit at Torre de Manila for investment. Thanks God I did not buy instead bought units at Tivoli Gardens which are cheaper and hustle free.

  5. The two mayors who approved the project should be held personally liable.

    IF DMCI can prove they attainted the permit without bribery and in good faith then they should be compensated for their costs at the expense of the corrupt mayors and not from the tax-payers coffers.

    If there was some corrupt dealings then DMCI and the Mayors should be on the hook for the costs.

  6. If you will only find a good spot within the Rizal Monument to take your pictures you will not see Torre De Manila. Most published pics of reporters were taken far from the monument farther than the flag pole. But in reality you will always have your pictures taken near the monent want a nearer pictures and at that distance you will not see Torre De Manila on the background. If a bit farther you will see a far and smaller Torre De Manila. I hope the Knights of Rizal and those compalining will face reality not to sensationalized the issue to get the symphaty of the people.

  7. Carlos Celdran on

    Sereno is obviously biased. As are the trolls on this thread. Hee hee. We should DEMAND she inhibit herself from the case. Too much conflict of interest. Impossible to have a fair trial with her on board. Period. And this article proves this to be so.

  8. Dong Malonga on

    As usual we have a SC that is extremely fallible and inclined to wrong decisions due to “personal” reasons and motives. Worst is, when the CJ acts this way. No delicadeza and sense of correct application.

  9. Hi Warlaw… this is for you: Why don’t you join Amado Bagatsing and the two of you go to the torre and simultaneously JUMP from the top???

  10. The fact that DMCI applied for building permit shows that it has no intention to do something against the law. I think the fault is with the people who gave DMCI the permit to build. Should the nearly finished building be demolished I think it is just fair that DMCI should be compensated for its losses in constructing the building. It is easy to blame DMCI but try to put yourself in the shoes of DMCI . I.m sure you too will fight to have your losses be paid.I think CJ Sereno is just being fair. If Torre de Manila is an eye sore and have to be demolished someone should pay for it.

    • “The fact that DMCI applied for building permit shows that it has no intention to do something against the law”

      Not always true.

      There are instances that, even if the one applying for a permit already knows that such application could be rejected (i.e. zoning issues), will usally revert to bribing an official, to get things done. Such an official can even amend or tailor-fit the zoning law in favor of DMCI, if the price is right.

      Then whose fault is it? Both DMCI and the one who issued the permit are responsible.

      Want some example? Just look at how PNoy bribed the House to get what he illegally wanted. Another one, looked how illegal mining activities become “legal” because of greasing the local officials.

  11. DMCI should be penalized and pay a yearly “park view tax” on every unit in the building. That tax can be used for the maintenance and improvements of the park. Demolishing the bldg is not a wise decision but the “park view tax” is a win-win solution to the problem.

    • I beg to disagree. If you’re going to allow DMCI to keep their building in exchange for additional taxes, then you’re basically giving legal precedence for all other developers out there to build in areas that obstruct the view of the monument. Soon the Rizal monument skyline will be filled with a bunch of buildings, so much that you won’t even be able to see the sky anymore. Despite the increase in taxes, the developers will still earn a profit because they’ll simply increase the cost of each unit. Never underestimate the power of the people to buy these units even if they’re more expensive.

      Some things are not worth the money. I say demolish the building.

  12. Jose A. Oliveros on

    Ordering the demolition of the Torre de Manila is not taking private property for public use so the issue of “just compensation” is definitely irrelevant. CJ Sereno’s suggestion that he issue be tackled during the oral arguments is a clear indication of her bias for DMCI. And to consider that just recently, in an interview with a female journalist, she claimed that she has maintained her independence as a magistrate.

  13. Better still-Torre should have continued construction and dismiss those against Torre as Fanatics – raising fuzz of nothing. Those against it has nothing better to do-and some was just carried away. Kudos to Celdran-maraming na bola.

  14. Johnny Ramos on

    I don’t think CJ Sereno is bias to DMCI. DMCI acted in good faith in securing all the necessary permits before they started the Torre De Manila. On the issue of photobomber, this nonsense since no body uses film anymore. Digital cameras picture can be edited and I phones have these now. The squatters in the Navotas seaside area can also be photobomber if you taking pictures from the sea or riding a tour of the Manila bay. Bakit di nila kinalampag ang korte sa mga bagay ito? Isa Lang sagot diyan no one from the squatter area will ever offer monies or probably they could loose their lives. What if someday the Sta Isabel college decided to put up a taller structures to accommodate more student? These properties are very private in nature and outside the perimeter of Luneta park kaya dapat Lang na tumigil na sila.

    • The Rizal monument is not some magazine model that you need to photoshop just to make it aesthetically appealing. It’s an insult to the monument to say that it needs to be retouched because it’s not good enough to look at without filters.

      What about the people who visit the monument personally?
      What do you think foreigners will say when they visit the monument?
      Will you be the first to tell them that “hey, you can just photoshop the building out of the picture”?

      The squatters can be transferred, the building is a permanent fixture. I don’t think that’s a legitimate comparison for photobombing.

    • Teddy Sevilla on

      I have seen national monuments in other countries which are dwarfed by buildings. What immediately comes to mind is Singapore’s Merlion. One can argue, of course, that there are angles – riverside direction – where the Photobombers are unseen. More importantly, the monument is just a transplant to the site – nauna ang mga buildings.

      Which brings me to a story about a smoker who went to his parish priest to pose some questions. “Father,” he asks, ” may I pray while I smoke?” “Why, certainly!” the kind priest answers. On a different occasion, the young man goes to the same priest and asks essentially the same question, “Father, may I smoke while I pray?” This time the answer is a stern rebuke, “Why, certainly you MAY NOT !!!”

      Nauna si Rizal. Kaya konting respeto naman sa DMCI.

      But I support the contention that there should be just compensation. UNLESS bad faith on the part of the company can be shown. DMCI should not expect a profit though.

    • Dahil hindi na uso ang film cameras, at nabubura na sa digital imaging pwede na yun?

      What kind of thinking is that?!

      Alam nyo ho ba ang ibig sabihin ng heritage conservation? Or may sense of history at national pride man lang ba kayo?

  15. Amnata Pundit on

    This is a difficult case as there are strong points in favor of both sides. Sereno is only human, and a good-looking one at that. If I were the justice concerned, I will just give in to Meilou, and most possibly gain a favor in exchange. After all, isn’t that how it works over there?