The payment of just compensation to DMCI Homes Inc. (DMCI) was tackled on Tuesday afternoon in the oral arguments before the Supreme Court (SC) on the case of Torre de Manila. One of the hotly debated issues during the second day of the oral arguments was whether the “sightline” or “vista” of the Rizal Monument is covered by the mandate under the 1987 Constitution to protect the national heritage sites.
The petitioners insisted that Torre de Manila should be demolished because it destroys the sacred “sightline” of the Rizal Monument.
During the oral arguments, Associate Justice Francis H. Jardeleza cited that the word “sightline” or “vista” cannot be found in the Constitution, but the “intent” of the provision of the Constitution in the protection of national cultural heritage sites should be scrutinized.
In reply, Atty. Victor Lazatin, counsel of DMCI, said that there is already a law that prescribes a five-meter “buffer zone” in historical sites, which should be extended by the court through judicial legislation.
Likewise, Lazatin said that if the “buffer zone” will be extended, it would mean the expropriation by the State of a private property which would need the payment of just compensation. Lazatin also cited the decision of the SC in the case of “People versus Fajardo” which states that if the government would expropriate a private property, there should be just compensation.
Jardeleza said that there are two ways of expropriating a private property, such as the “police power” or “eminent domain.”
The SC justice cited the case of the Pandacan Oil Depot that even though the SC has ordered the transfer of the facilities of the oil companies, the State did not pay a just compensation because it is an “invocation” of the “police power” of the State.