SENATOR Loren Legarda on Friday called on local government leaders and their respective offices to lead the preservation of the country’s heritage and to do whatever they can to prevent the destruction of structures with historical and cultural significance.
Legarda, head of the Senate committee on cultural communities, made the call as she expressed disappointment over what she called the continuing disrespect for our heritage as a result of the destruction of many heritage buildings, bridges and similar structures.
She said it was heartbreaking to hear news about a historical building or bridge being demolished to 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.
“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.”
Legarda said all the great cities of the world like Paris, London and Vienna had retained and respected their heritage. Luang Prabang in Laos and Bagan in Myanmar were also good examples of how heritage could 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,” Legarda said.
Concerned citizens and heritage conservation groups have been voicing out their strong opposition and taking action against the continuing destruction of heritage structures in different parts of the country.
Among the historical structures that have been or are being demolished are the Bancal Bridge in Zambales, the Dampol Bridge in Nueva Vizcaya, and the Art Deco Michel Apartments, the Admiral Hotel and the Army and Navy Club in Manila.
Legarda said 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, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines or the National Museum of the Philippines.
She said she 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.
She said 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.