Torre de Manila TRO upholds historical heritage over rampant commercialization – AKBAYAN

The 49-story Torre de Manila, looming uninvited, and photobombing the most cherished skyline of the national hero's monument at Rizal Park in Luneta, Manila. Photo by John Jerome Ganzon / Manila Bulletin

The 49-story Torre de Manila, looming uninvited, and photobombing the most cherished skyline of the national hero’s monument at Rizal Park in Luneta, Manila. Photo by John Jerome Ganzon / Manila Bulletin

The recent ruling of the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the construction of the Torre de Manila is a step in the right direction toward holding construction companies accountable, particularly on projects that have serious historical and cultural impact, said Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez.

The statement was made after the SC issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to DMCI Project Developers Inc. against the continuing construction of the 49-story Torre de Manila, looming uninvited, and photobombing the most cherished skyline of the national hero’s monument at Rizal Park in Luneta, Manila.

“The ruling represents the triumph of citizens acting together and a vindication of the efforts of Congress to ensure that development projects are in accord with our culture and in the preservation of our national and historical landmarks,” Gutierrez said.

“I hope the TRO will be an initial step toward a permanent injunction to protect the sanctity of the Rizal monument skyline and uphold historical heritage over rampant commercialization,” he added.

The TRO is “effective immediately until further orders from the court.”

Fitting tribute

The Akbayan lawmaker also said the TRO of the DMCI project is timely and would make a “fitting tribute” to the national hero Jose Rizal, especially as the nation is only two days away from commemorating his 154th birthday anniversary.

In September 2014, the petition for injunction was filed before the Supreme Court to stop the building of the controversial condominium project that has generated widespread public outrage.

With the case pending resolution, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts also issued a cease and desist order on the tower construciton on January 2015, highlighting how the project “destroys or significantly alter” the view of the historic Rizal Shrine.

“Not that it has dissuaded the company from pressing ahead with the construction, who claimed that only an injunction from the high Court could compel them to stop,” Gutierrez said.

With the SC now issuing the TRO, the lawmaker said this effectively leaves DMCI without any legal loophole to exploit to evade compliance.

The Akbayan lawmaker further urged the Supreme Court to issue a ruling that will order DMCI to pull down its building to a height the court deems reasonable, preventing the tower from further lumbering uninvited into the Rizal monument skyline.

The high Court is set to hear the oral arguments on the case on June 30.###


No more ‘business as usual’ as Competition bill nears enactment

Akbayan Party-list Rep. Barry Gutierrez today said that the days of the ‘business as usual’ practices of large market players will soon come to end as Congress is set to ratify  the consolidated proposed Competition Law adopted by the Bicameral Conference Committee before sine die adjournment this week.
After four days of meetings, capped by a final nine-hour marathon session, the Bicameral Conference Committee has finally approved the consolidated Competition Bill.

The Bicameral Conference Committee (BCC) has  approved the consolidated Competition Bill after four days of meetings.

“After four meetings, capped by a final nine-hour marathon session,the Bicameral Conference Committee (BCC) has finally approved on Monday night the proposed Philippine Competition Law, a landmark measure that will usher in stronger measures to protect consumer rights and welfare from the inefficiencies and possible abuses of the market,” said Gutierrez, who is one of the principal authors of the bill and a member of the House of Representatives panel to the BCC.
“The proposed law creates a regulatory framework which makes certain businesses play by the rules, such that no entity can manipulate the market by putting an end to the anti-competitive behaviors and market abuses by players that are harming the Philippine economy and the ordinary consumers,” the lawmaker added.
“When left unchecked, consumers often get the short end of the stick as business players take advantage of the vulnerabilities of the market system to lower production and transaction costs, increase profit margins and widen their market base, and they’re pretty much’business as usual,” Gutierrez said.
The lawmaker also said that the recent findings of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Investigative Unit uncovering a collusion among 13 power generators clearly exposes these market vulnerabilities that has endangered millions of ordinary consumers to abusive business practices and market inefficiencies.
The apparent collusion among the power players has led to massive power rate hikes in 2013.
“By leveling up the market playing field in tandem with creating more effective regulatory framework, we make certain that anti-monopoly policies are in place and the market players will operate in a more competitive, responsible and consumer-oriented market system,” Gutierrez said.
According to the World Economic Forum, the Philippines ranked #72 out of 144 countries on effectiveness of anti-monopoly policy.
Among the salient provisions of the bill is the formation of the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) to implement the national competition policy, functioning as an independent quasi-judicial body attached to the Office of the President.
The PCC is composed of a Chairperson and 4 Commissioners who should have been active in the practice of their professions for at least 10 years in the field of economics, law, finance, commerce or engineering.
Among the powers and functions of the Commission would be:
1. Conduct inquiry, investigate, and hear and decide on cases involving any violation of the Competition Act and other existing competition laws upon receipt of a verified complaint from an interested party or upon referral by the concerned regulatory agency, and institute the appropriate civil or criminal proceedings;
2. Issue advisory opinions and guidelines on competition matters, and submit annual and special reports to Congress including proposed legislation for the regulation of commerce, trade or industry;
3. Monitor and analyze the practice of competition in markets that affect the Philippine economy; implement and oversee measures to promote transparency and accountability; and ensure that prohibitions and requirements of competition laws are adhered to.###