SC junks petition against project marring view of Rizal Monument

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 25) — The Supreme Court on Tuesday junked a petition to halt construction of a controversial building within the line of sight of the Rizal Monument, a historic and well-known tourist landmark.

Supreme Court Spokesperson Theodore Te said that the justices voted 9-6, saying that there was no law prohibiting the construction of the Torre de Manila condominium in Manila.

"One, the Court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter. Two, the petitioners have no standing to sue. And three, they stand to suffer no injury," Te said in a press briefing.

"Furthermore, the Court also found that there is no law that prohibits the construction of the challenged Torre de Manila project," he said, adding that the TRO against it would be lifted.

The Torre de Manila construction on Taft Avenue sparked protest among the public when people found that it marred their view of the Rizal Monument. The building is over two kilometers away from the landmark.

The petition to stop the Torre de Manila construction was filed on September 2014 by the Order of the Knights of Rizal, a civic group established in 1911 to uphold the ideals of national hero Jose Rizal. In their petition, they requested the Supreme Court to order the condominium's developer DMCI Homes, to halt construction.

The Knights of Rizal argued that the placement of the building ruins the sight line behind the Rizal Monument, thus devaluing the historic site, and that it violated Manila zoning laws.

The group said it respected the decision of the Supreme Court on its "test case for Philippine heritage" and thanked the public for its support.

"The public support that was expressed in favor of our stand was an indication not only of the importance of the National Monument but also to the continued relevance and reverence our National Hero, Jose Rizal still enjoys," the Knights of Rizal said in a statement Tuesday.

The Court ruling was welcomed by the Torre de Manila developer, calling the decision "fair and just."

"We will immediately resume construction to finally end the undue suffering of our stakeholders, most especially our workers and future residents who depended on our commitment to complete the project," DMCI Homes said in their statement.

The Rizal Monument marks the exact spot on which national hero Jose Rizal was shot by a Spanish firing squad on December 30, 1896.

The Manila zoning board approved the continuation of the project in January 2014 after it had been suspended in November 2013 for violating zoning laws.

In June 2015, the SC issued the TRO that stopped construction of the tower.

This was followed by six rounds of oral arguments, held from July to September 2015.

The nine Justices who voted for the ruling were Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Justices Antonio Carpio, Presbitero Velasco Jr., Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo, Bienvenido Reyes, Estelita Perlas-Bernabe, Marvic Leonen, and Noel Tijam, said Te.

Those who voted against the ruling were Justices Teresita de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Jose Mendoza, Francis Jardeleza, Alfredo Caguioa, and Samuel Martires, he added.