Supreme Court (SC) justices are set to deliberate and vote on the controversial case of the Jose Rizal shrine’s photobomber, the Torre de Manila condominium built by the DMCI.
The case of the Knights of Rizal against the DMCI and the City of Manila under GR No. 213948 is included in the agenda in Baguio City for the SC’s first en banc session in the summer capital.
According to unimpeachable sources of The Manila Times in the High Court, two opposing drafts were already presented to and circulated among the 15-man tribunal.
One proposal is to remand the case to the Manila City Hall for reevaluation of licenses being issued to the DMCI since the SC is not a trier of facts.
Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and the City Council will reevaluate again permits given to Torre de Manila, on whether it conformed with the required zoning height under the law.
Another view is giving victory to the condominium builder by declaring that a petition of the Knights of Rizal be dismissed because there is no law that prohibits the construction of the building.
This means that no grave abuse of discretion was committed by the City of Manila when it allowed the building of Torre de Manila.
The ponente of the case is Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza and the dissenter is Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
Associate Justice Marvic Leonen has also presented his views about the issue.
The SC is scheduled on Tuesday to tackle the case again and possibly put it into voting, unless the magistrates decide to call the case again or reset hearings on it.
Another SC source said the case is already “ripe for voting.”
During several deliberations of the SC justices, there were contentions on whether to adopt the position of the government lawyers by demolishing the building or cutting it consistent with allowable zoning height under the law near the Rizal Park (Luneta) area in Manila.
In a 46-page memorandum from the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), signed by then Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, the government chief lawyer argued that the DMCI has violated national and local laws.
The builder “should not be allowed to take advantage of its own illegal acts. Plainly, from the facts of the case, there can be no doubt that the DMCI had no right to begin construction of the Torre de Manila on July 5, 2012, the day it obtained its building permit,” the memorandum read.
The OSG even accused the DMCI of “having full knowledge of the defects in its permits, amid the public clamor, without due regard to resolutions from the City Council of Manila. In the face of opposition from the National Museum and National Commission for Culture and the Arts, unmindful of a Senate investigation, the DMCI proceeded with undue haste to construct the Torre the Manila.”
A zoning permit of the City of Manila on June 19, 2012 provides that Torre de Manila has a proposed floor area of 97,549 sq. m. and a land area of 7,475 sq. m.
The Supreme Court has already ordered the DMCI to adopt safety measures for the building despite the fact that its construction was halted by the tribunal.