MANILA—The Supreme Court is set to tackle on regular en banc session several pending issues such as the petitions of the developer of the controversial Torre de Manila condominium insisting to proceed with the construction of the building and petitions to stop the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) from implementing a PHP4.15 per kilowatt-hour power rate increase.
The DMCI Project Developer Inc. has filed fourth urgent motion last Aug. 25 asked the SC to lift the temporary restraining order (TRO) it issued in June last year stopping the construction of the 49-storey residential building which ruins the iconic sight line of the monument of national hero Jose Rizal in Luneta Park.
The developer specifically urged the SC “to allow the construction of the condominium pending judgment on the merits of this case.”
It cited as basis the “additional costs suffered by respondent (DMCI) due to stoppage of the project.”
Apart from lifting the TRO, DMCI also asked the SC to immediately resolve the case and dismiss the petition filed by Knights of Rizal in September 2014 seeking demolition of the building.
The Consunji-owned also submitted to the high court several letters of buyers in the condominium expressing extreme frustration and disappointment on the suspension of the project.
In seeking dismissal of the petition, the developer insisted on its argument that government heritage agencies have no jurisdiction over Torre de Manila since it was built on private property outside the Rizal Park or any heritage zone, and that the Rizal Monument was declared a national cultural treasure one year after the developer obtained all government permits and started building.
In its petition, the Knights of Rizal alleged that by defacing the visual corridors of the monument, DMCI violated several laws mandating the protection and preservation of the Rizal Monument.
These laws include Republic Act No. 4846 (Cultural Properties Preservation and Protection Act), Republic Act No. 7356 (law creating the National Commission on Culture and the Arts) and Republic Act No. 10066 (National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009 or an Act Providing for the Protection and Conservation of the National Cultural Heritage).
Petitioners also argued that the project could be considered as an act of nuisance as defined under the Civil Code of the Philippines.
DMCI earlier contested the TRO on its controversial condominium, saying it amounted to an unjust interference with its right to property.
Meanwhile, the SC will also tackle petitions against the Manila Electric Company power rate hike has been pending since 2013.
It can be recalled that the High Tribunal issued on Dec. 23, 2013 a 60-day TRO or until Feb. 23, 2014 against Meralco’s power rate hike.
In another resolution issued last Feb. 18, 2014, the Court extended the TRO to 60 days or until April 22, 2014.
Before its lapsed, the Court extended for the second time the TRO but this time for an indefinite period or until it resolves the main petition.
The TRO was issued based on the petition filed by the so-called Makabayan bloc in Congress led by former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares.
The petitioners insisted that if the TRO will not be extended after it lapsed on April 22, the power firm will be free to charge millions of its consumers the said the rate despite the pendency of the petitions assailing its legality.
The petitioners earlier warned that the lifting of the TRO would result to inflation as the rate hike will add billions to production cost of manufacturers, which would push the prices of goods and services up.
Meralco earlier attributed the abrupt increase in the generation cost to supposed maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya facility that supplies natural gas to three major power plants – Ilijan, San Lorenzo and Sta Rita – which supply an aggregate capacity of 2700 MW electricity to its franchise area.