Press Release
July 1, 2015

Statement of Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Chairperson, Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture

"I find it appalling that the 'solution' being offered by DMCI to the Torre de Manila controversy is to have more skyscrapers constructed behind the Rizal Monument. Presumably, this would create a backdrop of not just one, but several 'national photobombers' behind Dr. Jose Rizal's shrine where its hideous tower could hide or blend in. This latest proposal only confirms DMCI's callousness amid mounting criticisms and objections to its project, not only from Filipinos but also from international heritage institutions like the ICOMOS.* It also shows how DMCI is totally bereft of social responsibility, in light of the real and pressing need to preserve and respect our national heritage."

"Prior to Torre de Manila, DMCI was considered one of the more reputable property developers in the country. I do not know if DMCI's proposal to have more tall buildings built in the vicinity of the Rizal Park and other heritage sites in the area was consulted with its top-level urban planners and engineers. Did DMCI even consider how such a proposal would further worsen urban congestion, traffic, flooding and garbage problems, and even the competition for water resources in that part of Manila? A simple reference to Manila's zoning ordinance will reveal that structures in that district are regulated precisely because of the land area's limited carrying capacity.

"This is the very same zoning ordinance under which DMCI acquired questionable exemptions in erecting a 49-storey tower - and now it wants other developers to be given the same privilege by city hall to also circumvent its zoning laws? I'm sorry, but DMCI's strategy to share the guilt around with other developers in the name of 'progress' would not exonerate it from its primary responsibility in the desecration of one of the most sacred icons of our nationhood.

"Now if DMCI's proposal was to spearhead the development of the area consistent with the original design of architect Daniel Burnham who envisioned the master plan for Manila, then that would have been a welcome step in the right direction.

"With DMCI's current stand, our cultural agencies, heritage activists and concerned citizens should more than ever continue the fight to protect the Rizal Monument and other threatened historical and cultural sites. I urge our people to remain vigilant and to follow closely the developments in the Supreme Court case, including the oral arguments that have been set on July 21. And to DMCI: See you in court."

*ICOMOS - International Council on Monuments and Sites

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