Cultural sensitivity urged in DPWH

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Monday, September 1, 2014


ENGINEERS may have to go undergo a transformation.

Special conditions of the Ifugao Rice Terraces may need detailed road designs from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) when doing construction in the highland town.

Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat said a meeting with the National Committee for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) legal counsel Trixie Cruz yeilded a consensus to formulate plans for road projects, which will be culturally sensitive.

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Baguilat said engineers at the DPWH are schooled to design road construction based on standard road plans without taking into consideration cultural and ethnic landscape of the area.

In a recent issue, the DPWH, without meaning to disrespect the Ifugao culture, inadvertently damaged paddies within the area of the rice terraces in Mayoyao, Hungduan, Kiangan, and Banaue.

It was then the NCCA asked the agency to temporarily halt road widening works in the Ifugao villages to asses and discuss how to reverse initial damage to the terraces.

Reportedly, rice paddies were damaged as well as irrigation networks of the highland villages which pushed local stakeholders and local government units to cry foul.

Baguilat has broached a possible multi agency approach in dealing with works for the rice terraces bringing in the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) to work with the DPWH and the NCCA to craft road designs which will not damage terraces as well as traditional irrigation facilities made by locals.

Baguilat said a meeting of the minds was established in the last meeting with Cruz as the agency has parallel views on conservation and preservation of the terraces.

“It is good that the NCCA has taken a more aggressive stand in preservation today,” he shared.

The new law on heritage has given more teeth into efforts by the NCCA over world heritage sites.

Baguilat said the DPWH will now be asked to repair damages brought about by the road widening and formulate plans for future road projects which will take into consideration culture and heritage pulse points in road repair and construction.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 02, 2014.

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