Knights of Rizal vs. DMCI Homes, Inc., G.R. No. 213948, April 18, 2017

On 12 September 2014, the Knights of Rizal (KOR), a “civic, patriotic, cultural, nonpartisan, non-sectarian and non-profit organization” created under Republic Act No. 646, filed a Petition for Injunction seeking a temporary restraining order, and later a permanent injunction, against the construction of DMCIPDI’s Torre de Manila condominium project. The KOR argues that the subject matter of the present suit is one of “transcendental importance, paramount public interest, of overarching significance to society, or with far-reaching implication” involving the desecration of the Rizal Monument.

The KOR asserts that the completed Torre de Manila structure will “[stick] out like a sore thumb, [dwarf] all surrounding buildings within a radius of two kilometer/s” and “forever ruin the sightline of the Rizal Monument in Luneta Park: Torre de Manila building would loom at the back I and overshadow the entire monument, whether up close or viewed from a distance.

Further, the KOR argues that the Rizal Monument, as a National Treasure, is entitled to “full protection of the law”21 and the national government must abate the act or activity that endangers the nation’s cultural heritage “even against the wishes of the local government hosting it.”

Next, the KOR contends that the project is a nuisance per se because “[t]he despoliation of the sight view of the Rizal Monument is a situation that annoy’s or offends the senses’ of every Filipino who honors the memory of the National Hero Jose Rizal. It is a present, continuing, worsening and aggravating status or condition. Hence, the PROJECT is a nuisance per se. It deserves I to be abated summarily, even without need of judicial proceeding.

The KOR also claims that the Torre de Manila 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, as well as the country’s commitment under the International Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites, otherwise known as the Venice Charter.

Lastly, the KOR claims that the DMCI-PDI’s construction was commenced and continues in bad faith, and is in violation of the City of Manila’s zoning ordinance.

Whether the Injunction relief/Mandamus was improper?

Yes, Injunctive reliefs are meant to preserve substantive rights and prevent further injury until final adjudication on the merits of the case. In the present case, since the legal rights of the KOR are not well-defined, clear, and certain, the petition for mandamus must be dismissed and the TRO lifted.

The general rule is that courts will not disturb the findings of administrative agencies when they are supported by substantial evidence. In this case, DMCI-PDI already acquired vested rights in the various permits, licenses, or even variances it had applied for in order to build a 49-storey building which is, and had been, allowed by the City of Manila’s zoning ordinance.

As we have time and again held, courts generally hesitate to review discretionary decisions or actions of administrative agencies in the absence of proof that such decisions or actions were arrived at with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.


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