MANILA – Real estate developer DMCI Homes Inc. disregarded the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA) order that sought to suspend the construction of Torre de Manila, the controversial building dubbed as the ‘national photobomber.’
According to DMCI Homes Inc. Director for Administration Herbert Consunji, the company will only cease construction of the condominium project upon the Supreme Court’s order.
“Any formal court [order] would be proper. [DMCI] will continue the work unless the court stops [it],” Consunji said in a phone interview.
The continuing construction of the 49-story building angered the Knights of Rizal and other heritage advocates as they believed that it desecrated and obstructed the view of the historic Rizal Shrine, a monument built in honor of national hero Jose Rizal.
Based from the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, the Rizal National Monument, Rizal Fountain, Rizal Park, and the Execution Site are considered as cultural property.
Committee on Education, Arts and Culture chairperson Senator Pia Cayetano supported NCCA as she led the Senate investigation on the matter.
“I fully support the NCCA in asserting its mandate to safeguard our heritage. The Rizal Shrine, as a national monument, is entitled to full protection under our national heritage law,” Cayetano said in a statement.
“It is high time that we, as a people, take the protection of our history, culture and heritage more seriously as these make up the intangible ideals that bind us as Filipinos and define our national identity,” she added.
Aside from the prevailing issue, several Manila residents also feared that the high-rise building may burden the limited capacity of utility pipes, sanitation and sewerages within the area.
The Supreme Court has already received a petition for a ruling to stop the construction of the project. It was filed by the Knights of Rizal last September 2014.
However, DMCI will submit a motion for reconsideration should the Court favor the petitioners.
Also answering the issue of marring the dominance of the monument, DMCI vowed to plant two layers of very tall trees between Torre de Manila and the Rizal Monument to strategically enhance the landscape of the shrine.
However, Cayetano questioned if it was possible for those trees to be high enough to cover the entire building.
Torre de Manila is now called ‘Terror de Manila’ by those opposed it.
With report from Cyra Moraleda