The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to reschedule oral arguments on the Torre de Manila case since government lawyers are busy preparing for a South China Sea hearing called by the UN arbitral tribunal in The Hague in The Netherlands.
The High Court earlier issued a temporary restraining order ordering DMCI Homes to stop construction of Torre de Manila, a 46-story condominium project. The order also sets the oral arguments on the case on June 30.
The Order of the Knights of Rizalhad sought an injunction against DMCI, claiming that the construction of the Torre de Manila ruins the vista of the Rizal monument in violation of numerous laws and ordinances on heritage, zoning and conservation.
Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, however, told the SC that the government lawyers are focusing their attention on the arbitral tribunal hearing from July 7 to 13.
He said the OSG would need an additional 30 days from June 30 to prepare for the Torre de Manila case.
“As agent of the Republic in the arbitration, the Solicitor General shall lead the Philippine delegation in these crucial hearings involving the jurisdiction and admissibility of the Republic’s claims before an ad hoc arbitral tribunal of the Permanent Court of Arbitration… It is indispensable that he and his team be allowed all the time between now and the hearings to make the necessary preparations to protect the national interest in this case of grave importance,” the motion read.
Before leaving for The Netherlands, the solicitor general said he would be locked in meetings with the Philippine government’s lawyers.
“The importance of this arbitration and the nature of the issues involved require that the solicitor general be fully prepared to make authoritative, intelligent and informed decisions during the conduct of the hearings,” Hilbay added.
The UN hearing is considered crucial as the international tribunal will assess if the case Manila filed against Beijing over their territorial dispute in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) has merit.
The Philippines has sought UN arbitration to nullify China’s 9-dash line claim to a vast part of the South China Sea.