No ‘just compensation’ for Torre builder – OSG

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The national government will not allow any “just compensation” in case the controversial Torre de Manila is demolished.

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This was the position taken by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) on behalf of the government.

DMCI of the Consunji family is the owner of the Torre de Manila condominium, which has been tagged as the “national photobomber” of the Rizal monument in Manila’s Rizal Park (Luneta).

In a position paper submitted to the Supreme Court en banc, Solicitor General Florin Hilbay manifested that the SC declaring illegal the construction of the condominium justifies the owner not getting compensated for the property.

The OSG represents the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the National Museum and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

It said the national government cannot pay, by expropriation, for pieces of property emanating from illegal or unconstitutional acts.

“On the assumption that the [SC] decided that the presence of the Torre de Manila impairs the physical integrity of the Rizal monument, such declaration carries with it the assumption that the construction is in violation of either the heritage laws or the Constitution, or both. The national government is therefore not required to compensate private parties for the exercise of acts that are illegal or unconstitutional,” the OSG’s position paper said.

The OSG reserved comments on possible liability of the City of Manila for allowing the building of the condominium to proceed.

Its lawyers said “whether or not the private respondent is entitled to compensation from the City of Manila is a different matter.”

Former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and incumbent Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada are pointing fingers at each another on who between them should be blamed for both allowing the construction of Torre de Manila.

Meanwhile, the OSG gave its nod to the position of petitioners from the Order of the Knights of Rizal that the condominium project violated provisions of Republic Act (RA) 10066 (National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009).

“The construction of the Torre de Manila impairs the Rizal monument’s physical integrity, in violation of RA 10066 in relation to the Constitution’s conservationist and protectionist policies,” the OSG position paper read.

“In the case of the Rizal monument, its physical integrity necessarily includes its sightline…. The term ‘physical integrity’ is broad enough to cover such characteristics of a protected cultural artifact as are necessary to preserve its cultural value. With particular reference to the Rizal monument, its physical characteristics include its sightline,” it was pointed out.

The OSG argued that while Torre de Manila project is not within the geographical area of a declared heritage zone, it is still covered by the constitutional mandate to “conserve, promote and popularize the nation’s historical and cultural heritage and resources.”

“The Rizal monument, as a sui generis [on its own]cultural artifact protected by the Constitution and our heritage laws, exists physically as a whole. This includes not only the oblisk and its accompanying bronze sculpture–the Motto Stella–but the ground and the space in which it is located. Its physical value as a National Cultural Treasure requires the preservation of its sightlines,” it said.

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