SC justice on Torre de Manila: Gov't guidelines have no legal weight

MANILA, Philippines – A Supreme Court justice said that the petition filed by the Knights of Rizal (KOR) to demolish a high-rise condominium in Manila “has no legal weight” if the group based its arguments on the guidelines set by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).

At the start of the oral arguments for the case of Torre de Manila on Tuesday, July 21, Justice Francis Jardeleza questioned the legal basis of the KOR’s claims that the Rizal Monument in Luneta should have “visual dominance” over its surroundings.

KOR wants Torre de Manila, a condominium being built by DMCI Homes, demolished because it ruins the site of the monument honoring the national hero.

In its petition, KOR cited the 2011 NHCP guidelines, stating that “monuments should be given due prominence since they symbolize national significance.”

Justice Francis Jardeleza said, however, said that the guidelines cannot be considered as laws since they were never published or deposited with the University of the Philippines Law Center as a condition for its legal basis.

“Your reliance on the NHCP guidelines have no weight,” Jardeleza said.

William Jasarino, KOR’s lawyer, said that these guidelines should still be followed because “they are meant to inculcate respect for these heritage sites.”

He conceded that DMCI Homes was correct “as a matter of law,” but pointed out that “not everything legal is moral, even the guidelines.” – Rappler.com