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NEW UPDATES Asean Affairs  3 July 2015  

City officials confirm DMCI got all permits to build Torre de Manila

Property developer DMCI Homes Inc. swam through the bureaucratic maze of the City of Manila in order to secure all the necessary permits covering the 46-story Torre de Manila, a residential development now embroiled in controversy for supposedly marring the visual corridors of the Rizal Monument in Luneta Park.
Former and current city officials on Wednesday told the House Metro Manila Development Committee made the hurdles over the red tape in the government.
At the end of the day DMCI Homes was able to get all permits to start building the 49-story condominium building, including a basement and two penthouse level, some 870 meters to the east of the national monument of Philippine national hero Jose Rizal, according to documents the developer released to reporters on Tuesday.
The property developer was given the building permit in July 2012, after complying with the prerequisites that include height clearance from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and a zoning permit from the city hall.
The City Council, however, issued several resolutions urging for the suspension of the building permit granted to DMCI Homes on grounds that Torre de Manila could mar the visual corridors of the iconic Rizal Monument.
The National Historical Commission of the Philippines cleared the project because Torre de Manila was outside the boundary of the Rizal Park and would not obstruct the front view of the monument, according to a letter by the commission in November 2012, which was shown to reporters on Wednesday.

Wrong signal to investors
The City Council, however, pursued the suspension of DMCI Homes' building permit for violating a provision of Manila City Ordinance No. 8119 that requires a specific floor-to-area ratio, said Councilor Marlon Lacson.
"Ang sinasabi naming violation, hindi sila nagco-comply sa floor-to-area ratio at sa open space… Kapag hindi ka nag-comply, hingi ka ng exemption sa Manila Zoning Board,” added Lacson.
DMCI Homes asked for the project to be exempted from the provisions of the land use plan and zoning regulations, and the City Council subsequently confirmed the exemptions through a resolution issued in January 2014.
“Wala po sa ordinansang iyon na ang mga konsehal pwedeng mag-negotiate with developers. Doon nanggagaling ang korapsyon,” former Manila Mayor and now BUHAY Party-list Representative Lito Atienza said during the committee hearing on Wednesday.
The council also promulgated a new ordinance, which then-Mayor Alfredo Lim vetoed for supposedly usurping the powers of the Office of the Mayor department to implement the city’s zoning and land use plan. Lim was invited by the committee to shed light on controversy surrounding the Torre de Manila.
"Bakit kailangang magmano sa [city council] ang developer bago magtayo. Ano ang motibo?” Lim said.
On the sidelines of the committee hearing, Manila 5th District Representative Amado Bagatsing told reporters the experience of DMCI Homes in securing permits for Torre de Manila translates into a wrong signal to investors and businesses.
"Mukhang walang stability ang sinumang mamumuhunan sa Maynila… Ang developer nagiging pingpong – sakay na lang nang sakay sa gusto ng mga opisyal,” the lawmaker added.

Incumbent Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and Vice Mayor Francisco Moreno were both absent during the committee hearing. Estrada was represented by Atty. Alberto Flaminiano.
Also, the House committee refused to recognise the representatives DMCI Homes hired to attend the hearing.
“The House has a standing policy that it will not recognise commissioned counsels, who are not organic to the company,” Committee Chairman Winston Castello said.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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