‘No direct order’ to demolish BGC replica

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014


A TECHNICAL consultant of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) clarified that the agency did not directly order the demolition of the replica of the Bacolod Government Center (BGC) located at the plaza.

The legal opinion of Jose Dalisay III was endorsed by NHCP Executive Director III Ludovico Badoy to Bacolod Mayor Monico Puentevella in a letter dated August 25.

Puentevella, who prefers to call the structure the Bacolod People's House, earlier said the NHCP wrote him a letter stating that it wants the replica of the BGC removed.

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However, the letter of NHCP chairman Maria Serena Diokno to Councilor Carlos Jose Lopez dated March 17, 2014, and the letter of Badoy to Puentevella dated June 3, 2013, which were provided by the Mayor's Office to the media, did not mention anything about removing the replica.

In his legal opinion stated in a letter dated April 11 to the NHCP, Dalisay said Puentevella raised the issue on whether the NHCP can stop a local government unit from demolishing structures built in a public plaza that have not been declared and marked as a national historical landmark, shrine, monument or site.

When Puentevella posed the issue whether the NHCP can impose its guidelines for open spaces in such a park or plaza, Dalisay said, the mayor wants to restore the plaza to its "former grandeur" by removing structures put up by or identified with his predecessor.

This move is meant to unblock the view of the San Sebastian Cathedral from Araneta Street, he said.

Dalisay said Puentevella, in a letter dated May 29, requested the NHCP to “issue its position on whether or not the infrastructure (constructed by the previous administration in the plaza) is within the guidelines set forth by the NHCP.”

In a letter dated June 3, the NHCP agreed that "the new massive structure at the plaza creates a visual scale and proportion, and has adversely affected the openness of the place."

The NHCP indicated its preference that the local government unit maintains the plaza as an open space, Dalisay said.

Dalisay added that although the NHCP, in the letter, did not directly order the demolition of the new structure, there is the danger that the letter might be construed as at least authorizing such demolition.

Thus, there is a need to clarify the NHCP's position, he said.

"So the basic question is: does the NHCP have jurisdiction over the Bacolod City Public Plaza?" Dalisay asked.

He said that by consulting the NHCP, Puentevella impliedly recognizes the jurisdiction of the commission.

Jurisdiction, however, must be expressly conferred by law, and is not subject to agreement between stakeholders, Dalisay added.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 06, 2014.

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