POSTSCRIPT / July 2, 2015 / Thursday


Opinion Columnist

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Roxas reminds Binays: You don’t own Makati!

INTERIOR Secretary Mar Roxas, the presumed Liberal Party presidential bet in 2016, scored a bull’s eye yesterday when he advised suspended Makati Mayor Junjun Binay – and the Binay dynasty by extension — to step aside because “You don’t own Makati City!”

Roxas may well be addressing the Binay clan led by Vice President Jojo Binay, the declared presidential candidate of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance which held yesterday a campaign rally for the 2016 national elections.

He reminded the mayor and the rest of the Binays: “This is not a telenovela or a drama about your family lording it over Makati City. This is about the rule of law which says you are suspended by the Ombudsman. You don’t own Makati City… No one is king here except the law.”

Elsewhere, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales warned she would not tolerate “mob rule” after Binay supporters clashed with policemen sent to preserve order as her order suspending the mayor was served.

It seemed unseemly (unpresidential, according to some) for the Vice President to have personally tangled with policemen securing the Makati City Hall area bursting with partisan crowds.

It was a good thing Mayor Binay decided later – after failing to secure a Supreme Court order temporarily restraining Ombudsman’s suspension order — to vacate his office and allow Vice Mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña to assume the functions of the mayor.

Overall, the Binays lost points in the day’s chaotic events, although the Vice President warmed the hearts of the opposition and critics of President Aquino with his recitation of the glaring shortcomings the Aquino administration.

• ‘Torre’ is about law, not photography

IT SHOULD be easy for the courts to determine if the construction of the Torre de Manila – tagged as the “national photo bomber” — violated any law or city ordinance. Proper corrective and punitive sanctions should be imposed if violations are proved.

Until that time, however, emotional objections to the 46-storey building rising 870 meters away from the Rizal monument at the Luneta and 60 meters past the Taft Ave. park boundary in Ermita may have no legal bearing on the petition for the structure to be demolished.

Objections to the project gained ground in social media after a tour guide complained that the Torre de Manila, described as a photo bomber, would mar the view of the much-photographed Rizal monument from its west side.

Putting aside the legal issues, if the “marring the view” argument were to be sustained does it mean that no high-rise building will ever be built within camera range of the Rizal monument?

As we asked on Twitter the other day:No tall building is allowed as far as a camera lens can focus (infinity!) shooting from the west side of Rizal monument?”

From other vantages, from the north side of the monument for instance, there are ugly buildings also “marring the view” of camera-toting tourists and visitors. What do we do with the structures if we must be consistent?

The legal situation would be different if there were a law setting restrictions on the height and location of buildings within a defined radius from the Rizal or any other national monument.

If we may compare, in Washington, DC, there is a law setting the overall building height limitation to 130 feet (40 meters), but also restricting building heights to the width of the adjacent street plus 20 feet (6.1 meters). Thus, a building facing a 90-foot (27-meter)-wide street could be only 110-feet (34-meter) tall.

No structure in the US capital is taller than the Washington monument, an obelisk commemorating George Washington, the first American president. Made of marble, granite, and bluestone gneiss, it is the world’s tallest obelisk at 554 feet, 7 and 11/32 inches.

For the record, we do not know anybody from DMCI and have not talked with or met any of its officials or representatives.

• APO ready and able to print e-passports

NOW that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has enlisted the technical help of the government’s APO Production Unit in updating the delivery backlog of electronic passports, rivals in the private printing industry are griping.

How can the Department of Foreign Affairs catch up on the delayed delivery of e-passports if obstructionists get in the way?

The APO Production Unit, whose main state-of-the-art printing plant is in Batangas, is equipped and manned to address the DFA’s need for increasing numbers of passports in the next 10 years, complying with global standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

This was pointed out by APO chair Milagros A. Alora as several quarters questioned the transfer of the printing contract from the Bangko Sentral to APO. Critics claimed that the latter was not qualified to provide security printing services to the government.

“If only those attack dogs had done even the most basic research, they would not have made such an erroneous statement, that APO is a private printing company or that it has no experience or facilities for security printing,” Alora said.

APO Production Unit Inc. is a government-controlled corporation and one of three recognized government printers. The two others are the BSP and the National Printing Office.

Now under the direct control and supervision of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, APO was created in 1974. In July 2014, APO opened its new security printing facility at the LIMA Technology Center in Malvar, Batangas.

Its three-hectare site was developed exclusively as a high security printing facility to enable the company to achieve its mandate to provide accountable forms and high security printing services for the government.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of July 2, 2015)

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