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Knights of Rizal vs. DMCI Homes, Inc.

FACTS

On July 5, 2012, DMCI Project Developers, Inc. (DMCI) was granted a building permit to build a
49-Storey Torre De Manila Residential Condominium on a 7,716.60sqm lot they acquired in the City of
Manila. The City Council of Manila issued Resolution No. 121 enjoining the Office of the Building Official
to temporarily suspend the building permit of DMCI. That the said condominium project will rise up high
above the back of the national monument of Jose Rizal and would certainly ruin the line of sight of the
Rizal Shrine from the frontal Roxas Boulevard vantage point.

Both the City of Manila and DMCI sought the opinion of the National Historical Commission of
the Philippines (NHCP) on the matter. NCHP maintained that the Torre de Manila project site is outside
the boundaries of the Rizal Park and cannot possibly obstruct the frontal view of the National
Monument.

Following an online petition against the construction project, the City Council of Manila issued
Resolution No. 146, directing the building officials to temporarily suspend the project. The Manila
Zoning Board of Adjustments and Appeals recommended the approval of the building plan of DMCI and
subsequently, the City Council of Manila agreed to the recommendation of the Zoning Board to let DMCI
continue the project.

Arguments of the Knights of Rizal (KOR)

On September 12, 2014, the KOR, a civic and non-profit organization filed a petition for injunction
seeking a temporary restraining order, and later a permanent injunction, against the construction of
DMCI project. The group argued that:

1.) The protest against the project is one of “transcendental importance” involving the desecration
of the Rizal Monument.
2.) The Torre De Manila will ruin the sightline of the Rizal Monument.
3.) That being a National Treasure, the Rizal Monument is entitled to “full protection of the law”
and that the national government must stop the activity that endangers the nation’s cultural
heritage even against the local government pushing for it.
4.) That the project is a nuisance because the destruction of the sight view of the Rizal Monument
is a situation that annoys or offends the Filipinos who honor the memory of our national hero.
5.) That the project violates the NHCP’s Guidelines on Monuments Honoring National Heroes,
Illustrious Filipinos and other Personages, which state that historic monuments should assert a
visual dominance over its surroundings.
6.) Last, that the DMCI continued in bad faith and is in violation of the City’s zoning ordinance.

Arguments of DMCI
DMCI argues that KOR’s petition should be dismissed on the ff grounds:

1.) SC has no jurisdiction over this action


- DMCI asserts that the petition should have been filed with the RTC under the doctrine of
hierarchy of courts and that the petition involves questions of fact and not justiciable one.
- DMCI also contends that KOR should appeal to the Manila Zoning Board and to HLURB and
not the SC
- Injunction is not a remedy but a complaint to be filed with the appropriate cultural agency
under the National Cultural Heritage Act.
2.) KOR has no legal right or interest to file or prosecute this action
- KOR’s purpose does not include the preservation of the Rizal Monument and that it did not
suffer an actual or threatened injury as a result of the alleged illegal conduct.
3.) Torre De Manila is not a nuisance
- It obtained all necessary permits, licenses, clearances, and certificates for its construction.
There are also other tall buildings even closer to the Rizal Monument.
4.) DMCI acted in good faith in constructing Torre De Manila; and
- KOR failed to present any proof that DMCI did not follow the proper procedure and zoning
restrictions of the City. The project was also cleared b t the City Legal Officer of Manila and
NHCP.
5.) KOR is not entitled to a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction
- KOR stands to suffer no damage because of its lack of direct pecuniary interest in this petition.
To grant the KOR’s petition for injunction would constitute an unjust taking of property without
due process of law.

ISSUE

Whether or not the SC can issue a writ of mandamus1 against the officials of the City of Manila to stop
the construction of DMCI Torre De Manila Project?

RULING

The petition for mandamus lacks merit and must be dismissed. There is no law prohibiting the
construction of the Torre de Manila.

In Manila Electric Company vs. Public Service Commission, the SC held that “what is not expressly or
impliedly prohibited by law may be done, except when the act is contrary to morals, customs, and public
order. Art. 1306 and 1409 of the Civil Code prescribes that acts not contrary to morals, good customs,
and public order, or public policy are allowed if also not contrary to law.

No allegation of proof was presented that DMCI project is “contrary to morals, customs, and public
order” or that it brings harms, dangers, or hazard to the community. The City of Manila has even cleared

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Writ of Mandamus – a writ or order from a court to an inferior government official ordering the government
official to properly fulfill their official duties or correct an abuse of discretion.
DMCI and that the latter complied with the standards set by laws and local ordinances to construct the
project.

What is clear is that there is no law prohibiting the construction of the Torre De Manila due to its effect
on the background “view, vista, sightline, or setting” of the Rizal monument.

Section 15, of Article 142 of the Constitution is not self-executory, thus congress passed laws dealing
with the preservation and conservation of our cultural heritage. National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009
empowers the National Commission for Culture and Arts and other cultural agencies to issue a cease
and desist order “when the physical integrity of the national cultural treasures or important cultural
properties is found to be in danger of destruction or significant alteration from its original state.”
Physical Integrity refers to the structure itself and the law does not mention that another project,
building, or property not itself a heritage property or building, may be the subject of a cease and desist
order when it affects the view, vista, or sightline of a heritage property. Thus, this law cannot apply to
the project.

The Constitution states that “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process
of law, whether substantive or procedural. The dispossession of property or the stoppage of the
construction of the building in one’s own property would violate substantive due process.

Mandamus are only issued when there is a clear legal duty imposed upon the office or the officer sought
to be compelled to perform an act , and when the party seeking mandamus has a clear legal right to the
performance of such act.

In this case, nowhere in any ordinance or in any law, that the construction of a building outside the Rizal
Park is prohibited if the building is within the background sightline or view of the monument.

While the Rizal Park has been declared a National Historical Site, the area where the building is being
constructed is a privately-owned property. The Ordinance 8119 can never be applied outside the Rizal
Park and that Torre De Manila area is well-beyond the Rizal Park.

Doctrine of Hierarchy of Courts. KOR elevated the case immediately to SC in an original petition for
injunction which we later on treated as one for mandamus. However, SC cannot compel City of Manila
to consider the Ordinance 8119 as there is no legal duty on the City of Manila to issue permits to build
outside the protected areas of the Rizal Park.

Ordinance 8119 has no standard for defining or determining the background sightline that is supposed
to be protected or that is part of the “physical integrity” of the monument.

In this case, SC determined that the City of Manila was not negligent or remiss in its duty under
Ordinance 8119 considering that this determination will involve questions of fact. DMCI had been

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It states that “the State shall conserve, promote, and popularize the nation’s historical and cultural heritage and
resources.
issued the proper permits and had secured all the approvals and licenses months before the actual
construction began.

The KOR is stopped from questioning the Torre De Manila construction when it came up with the idea to
build national theater on the Education Center building within the Rizal Park in the 1950s.

Torre De Manila is not a nuisance. Article 694 of the Civil Code defines a nuisance as any “act, omission,
establishment, business, condition of property, or anything else which 1) injures or endangers the health
or safety of others 2) annoys or offends the senses 3) shocks, defies, or disregards decency or morality
4) obstructs or interferes with the free passage of any public highway or street, or any body of water, or
5) hinders or impairs the use of property.

Two kinds of nuisance:

1.) Nuisance per se – recognized as a nuisance under any and all circumstances, because it
constitutes a direct mance to public safety or health.
2.) Nuisance per accidens – depends upon certain conditions and circumstances, and its existence
being a question of fact, it cannot be abated without due hearing in a tribunal authorized to
decide whether such a thing in law constitutes a nuisance.

SC ruled that the Torre De Manila is not a nuisance per se as the project is not considered as a direct
menace to public health or safety and even complied with the health and safety standards.

The petition for mandamus is dismissed and the TRO is lifted.

The general rule is that the courts will not disturb the findings of administrative agencies when they are
supported by substantial evidence. DMCI acquired all vested rights in various permits, licenses or even
variances to build the Torre De Manila project.

Courts will not review discretionary decisions or actions of administrative agencies in absence of grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction and that Mandamus may only be issued
to enforce a clear and certain legal rght.