Legarda Calls on LGUs to be Heritage Warriors, Renews Call Against Destruction of Heritage Structures

October 13, 2014

Senator Loren Legarda today called on local government leaders and their respective offices to lead the preservation of the country’s heritage and do whatever they can to prevent the destruction of structures with historical and cultural significance.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities, made the call as she expressed disappointment over continued disrespect for Philippine heritage with the destruction of many heritage buildings, bridges and similar structures.

“It is heartbreaking to hear news about a historical building or bridge being demolished to also build a new building or bridge in its stead. I am aghast at the disrespect for our heritage and the apparent indifference to public opinion,” Legarda said, noting that citizens and concerned groups would always appeal against the destruction of heritage structures.

“Why don’t we preserve what we have and just retrofit and renovate? The concept of adaptive reuse should be adopted so that instead of destroying our heritage structures, we can restore them and use them for a new purpose. All the great cities of the world like Paris, London and Vienna have retained and respected heritage. Luang Prabang in Laos and Bagan in Myanmar are also good examples of how heritage can benefit people in tourism, livelihood and pride of place. I urge our LGUs to be our heritage warriors, who must lead the preservation and protection of our heritage,” she stressed.

Concerned citizens and heritage conservation groups have been voicing out their strong opposition and taking action against continuous destruction of heritage structures in different parts of the country. Among the historical structures that have been or are being demolished include the Bancal Bridge in Zambales Province, the Dampol Bridge in Nueva Vizcaya, and the Art Deco Michel Apartments, the Admiral Hotel and the Army & Navy Club in Manila.

The Senator explained that Republic Act No. 10066, the National Cultural Heritage Act, clearly states that structures not belonging to the categories of National Cultural Treasures, Important Cultural Property, World Heritage Sites, National Historical Shrine, National Historical Monument, and National Historical Landmark, but are at least 50 years old, are automatically considered heritage structures, unless declared otherwise by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) or the National Museum of the Philippines (NM).

In line with this, Legarda will introduce a special provision under the proposed General Appropriations Act 2015 that will prevent the use of state funds to demolish public and private heritage structures.

“The State should be the first to protect our heritage, thus, we will make sure that no public funds can be used for infrastructure projects that would result in the destruction of our historically and culturally significant structures,” said Legarda.

She added that all agencies should check first with the NCCA, NHCP or NM the cultural and historical value of structures that will be affected by infrastructure projects before proceeding with the new activity.