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Legarda Welcomes Almario as NCCA Chair, Ensures Support for Arts and Culture in 2017 Budget

January 13, 2017

Senator Loren Legarda today ensured that the government will continue to support the arts and culture sector under the 2017 national budget as she welcomed the election of National Artist for Literature, Virgilio S. Almario, as the new chairperson of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

Almario was elected to the position following the end of term of Professor Felipe de Leon, Jr.

“Chairman Almario’s knowledge and understanding of our culture are great assets in leading NCCA and carrying out programs pursuant to the agency’s mandate. I look forward to his plans for the arts and culture sector especially with the support provided by the national government through the 2017 budget,” said Legarda, a staunch advocate of Philippine arts and culture and chair of the Senate Committee on Finance.

The Senator said that part of the 10-Point Socioeconomic Agenda of the Duterte Administration is the promotion of the creative arts. Moreover, in his first State of the Nation Address, the President said he will implement a human approach to development and governance while also ensuring respect for culture.

“We are funding the various programs of NCCA for the preservation and promotion of tangible and intangible Filipino heritage,” Legarda said.

The budget of NCCA for 2017 is P187.626 million, which includes funding for research and documentation like the Dayaw book and TV series, support for schools of living tradition (SLTs), cultural and heritage mapping projects, Venice Biennale participation, and Dayaw local and international festivals, among other projects.

Legarda said that while the NCCA is the lead agency for arts and culture, the 2017 budget also funds culture-related programs in other agencies of government including cultural diplomacy projects under the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Indigenous Peoples Summit under the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), lecture series and documentation on IP knowledge and tradition under the National Museum, preservation of Gabaldon school buildings and other heritage school buildings under the Department of Education (DepEd), natural dye centers under the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI), and IP resource centers under State Universities and Colleges (SUCs).

General and special provisions relative to the promotion and preservation of arts and culture are also part of the 2017 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

The DepEd and SUCs are mandated to include in their curriculum modules topics on indigenous knowledge and tangible and intangible heritage.

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) budget will include in their non-formal technical vocational education and training the traditional skills such as, but not limited to, wood carving, pottery making, weaving, arts and crafts; while the Department of Tourism (DOT) will include weaving, artisan crafts, and other SLTs in all its promotion, market and tourism development.

A general provision under the 2017 GAA also states that built heritage, cultural properties and cultural landscapes are protected.

The provision states that, “Alteration, renovation or demolition of government buildings and open spaces declared by government cultural agencies or presumed to be important cultural properties, including but not limited to provincial capitol buildings, city halls, municipal halls, monuments, fountains, parks and plazas, schools, state colleges and universities, fortifications, lighthouses, bridges, public hospitals, train stations, museums, public libraries, stadiums, prisons and government offices, shall be undertaken only upon prior approval of the government cultural agencies and proper consultation with stakeholders and cultural groups to be administered by the NCCA. This includes the protection of the sight line with regard to built heritage, cultural properties and cultural landscapes.

In addition, in undertaking major infrastructure projects, the concerned department/agency shall be responsible specifically in the planning, design, construction, and maintenance of national roads and bridges as they impact on heritage structures or aspects of heritage conservation pursuant to Republic Act no. 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.