Atienza on the ‘original sin’ in Torre de Manila
I am writing in reaction to Rina Jimenez David’s column titled “Original sins” (Opinion, 6/23/15), regarding the Torre de Manila issue.
David says the “original sin” may be blamed on former Manila mayor and now Buhay Party-List Rep. Lito Atienza, since the site where the Torre de Manila stands now was where the Jai Alai building used to be.
For the record, in 1999, then President Joseph Estrada handed the property to the city government of Manila for the construction of its Hall of Justice—which was badly needed by the city to house the courts which were overly congested in City Hall and several off-site offices.
Manila’s 30 metropolitan trial court and 56 regional trial court judges were holding office in congested, cramped and poorly ventilated courtrooms scattered all over the city—at City Hall, at the old GSIS building along Mayor Antonio Villegas Street (formerly Arroceros), at the Napocor building on Bonifacio Drive in the Port Area, and even atop the Ongpin fire station in Chinatown.
Then Mayor Atienza wanted the new structure to represent respect for justice and the rule of law, not to preserve memories that tend to venerate gambling. The idea of having a structure that has long been associated with gambling and game-fixing was totally incompatible with a Hall of Justice.
It was very unfortunate, however, that the Hall of Justice did not push through when President Estrada was removed from power.
David should also bear in mind that before it was demolished, the Jai Alai building had long been abandoned and had fallen into an obvious state of disrepair. It had become a hideout for lawless elements which posed a danger to the students of nearby schools like Adamson University and Sta. Isabel College. This, for us, is the “original sin.”
Whatever the city government decided to do with the property after Atienza’s term is the responsibility of the city council of Manila, which in this case, approved not only the Torre de Manila project but also all building construction permits.
—RYAN B. PONCE, chief of staff,
Office of Buhay Party-List
Rep. Lito Atienza
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