Recommended Movie for Filipino-American History Month in October

"THE Great Raid" (2005) is about the daring rescue of the remaining 513 survivors of a Japanese prison camp in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija. Filipino actor Cesar Montano played the role of Col. Juan Pajota who led Filipino guerrillas that provided invaluable support to the liberating U.S. forces in time to avert an impending massacre of the POWs. The film starred Benjamin Bratt, James Franco and Ralph Fiennes. Most local libraries carry copies that you can borrow or you can order the DVD from Showing this film can be one of the relevant activities for the coming Filipino American History Month in October.


SEN. Juan Ponce Enrile walks out of prison recently after Justices of the Supreme Court voted 6-4 granting his request to post bail for "humantarian" reason. Enrile, 90, was charged with plunder--a non-bailable crime. The justices who favored Enrile were Gloria Arroyo appointees while the four who dissented on the ruling were President Aquino's appointees. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima severely criticized the SC action which she said made the country appear like a "Banana Republic." De Lima said the SC action will set precedent that will lead to freeing Enrile's co-accused Gigi Reyes, Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla as well as Ex-President Arroyo who, like Enrile, is under house arrest in a government hospital.


Solicitor General asks SC to order demolition of “Torre de Manila”

Inquirer News Service

Pic: DMCI 49-story Torre de Manila

SOLICITOR General Florin Hilbay on Tuesday, August 25, called on the Supreme Court to order property developer DM Consunji Inc. (DMCI) Homes to demolish the 49-story Torre de Manila condominium not only for ruining the sightline of the Rizal Monument but also for building it with undue haste using invalid permits.

Speaking to the court on the fifth round of oral arguments on the case, Hilbay called the Rizal Monument one of the most important cultural treasures of the country that the Constitution required the State to protect and conserve.

“We take it as a given that the cultural artifact that is the Rizal Monument in Luneta is part of the ‘cultural treasure of the nation’ regardless of any formal declaration.

“There can be no doubt that of all the monuments of our national hero—and perhaps even of all monuments in the country—the Rizal Monument in Luneta is primus inter pares (first among equals). It is sui generis [unique],” Hilbay said.

The solicitor general, who represents the government in the case filed by the Knights of Rizal against DMCI, pointed to the monument being one of the most recognizable historic sites in the country and an almost-mandatory stop for all visitors from the provinces and even those from abroad.

Covered by Constitution

“Our desire to protect it is so overwhelming it is guarded seven days a week by the Philippine Marines. It is the site where our national hero’s remains are buried… These facts undeniably make the Rizal Monument a prime object of the Constitution’s conservationist and protectionist policies under Article XIV,” Hilbay added.

Award-winning actor Cesar Montano (middle) took time to share his thoughts with PINOY publisher/editor Mariano "Anong" Santos (R) and his associate Randy Famacion (L) including his experiences during the filming of "The Great Raid." A feature story about the interview will be published in the October edition of PINOY. Montano encourages learning this partnership of the Filipinos and Americans in fighting Japanese Imperialism in WWII. He supports the initiative in Washington to grant the medals to Filipino War Veterans. His suggestion is definitely a must do if we’ll take Filipino American History Month seriously.

Artwork, clear sightline

“The monument as an artwork, was intended to be and has always been, seen with a clear sightline. One cannot therefore divorce the Motto Stella from the park in the same way that one cannot divorce the Motto Stella from the sightline.

“The physics of the Rizal Monument is such that the obelisk, the bronze sculpture and its sightline constitute a single piece of cultural heritage,” Hilbay added.

The Supreme Court, Hilbay said, may either interpret the physical integrity of the monument by just referring to the Motto Stella, a restrictive interpretation, or to the Motto Stella and its accompanying sightline, which is a broad interpretation.

The high tribunal, Hilbay said, should choose the latter interpretation because of the following:

— It is consistent with the physics of Rizal as an integrated unit.

— It gives practical meaning to the conservationist and protectionist policies of the Constitution.

— Like in environment cases, when human activities may lead to threats of serious and irreversible damage, actions may be taken by the State to avoid or diminish such threats.
Hilbay also pointed out that the zoning and building permits of DMCI were issued beyond authority by the city government.

Floor-to-area ratio

“DMCI’s zoning permit is invalid because it goes way beyond the floor-to-area ratio. Whereas the ordinance allows only a floor-to-area ratio of four, the zoning permit allowed 13. Whereas Torre de Manila should have been entitled to a maximum of seven floors, its application was for 49 floors. This is 42 floors beyond the authority of the CPDO,” Hilbay said.

The ordinance stated that the City Council—upon recommendation of the Manila Zoning Board of Adjustment Appeals and through the committee on housing, urban development and resettlements—had the sole authority to issue the permission for variance or exception from the ordinary zoning rules.

Validity tainted

Hilbay added that the defects in the zoning permit also “taint[ed]” the validity of the building permit and business permit issued to DMCI.

The ordinance, according to him, states that no such permits may be issued by the local building official and the Business Promotion and Development Officer without a valid zoning permit [adopted] in accordance with the ordinance.

Undue haste

“Given these facts and conclusions of law, what is apparent is that DMCI was less-than-prudent both in securing the required permits and in building Torre de Manila. A diligent developer would have gone through the required processes under the ordinance; it would not have built the Torre de Manila with undue haste,” he said.

Hilbay said his task was to call for the application of the law “to the meager, but undisputed facts of this case, and not to impute any illicit motives on our public officials and on DMCI.”
“Nonetheless, with respect to the Torre de Manila project, we can only say, perhaps generously, that DMCI has assumed the risks to which it is now exposed. Had it actually followed the rule of law, it would not be facing the danger of loss it now confronts,” he said.

Asked by Justice Francis Jardeleza, the assigned writer of the court opinion on the case, on whether he thought the court was empowered to issue an order directing the demolition of the Torre, Hilbay replied, “Yes, if it is an illegal construction it would be strange if the Supreme Court cannot give appropriate relief.”

Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno focused on the term sightline, which is not defined under the Cultural Heritage Act.

Hilbay replied, “What we are saying is that the law was passed in consideration of the practice of conservation which covers in some cases the protection of the sightline.”

Sereno adjourned the oral arguments at 7:15 p.m. The sixth round was set for Sept. 1 at 2 p.m.


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