Historical commission directs MP to reconstruct Capitol

BONTOC, Mountain Province – The long delayed decision of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) over the demolished half of the provincial capitol is over.

The agency has opted for the reconstruction of the demolished half part of the capitol and to restore the intact portion.

In a letter dated October 17, 2016, NHCP Chairperson Maria Serena Diokno informed Provincial Governor Bonifacio Lacwasan of the desire of the NHCP to resolve the long-standing matter of the Cease and Desist Order (CDO) on the provincial capitol.

“Since you have not replied to our letter of 26 September 2016 requesting the proposed restoration plan, our decision is to reconstruct the demolished parts of the old capitol building and restore the intact portion,” stated the letter.

It further directs the provincial government to as soon as possible submit the reconstruction plan of the demolished portion and the restoration plan of the intact portion.

“Once we approve the plans, we will lift the Cease and Desist Order,” assured NHCP.

The decision came after Congressman Maximo Dalog met with the representatives of the NHCP during a budget hearing at the House of Representatives on September 27.

In a conference between Dalog and Diokno, it was cited the demolished portion remains an eyesore for the public.

Dalog pressed for the agency to hasten the processes involved in resolving the “seeming impasse” for the good of the people, the provincial government, and the preservation of the cultural heritage.

In a letter to Diokno dated October 6, 2016, Dalog cited it is the mandate of the agency to determine the manner of restoration of Important Cultural Properties as provided under Republic Act 10086, Section 5, which states (C) “undertake and prescribe the manner of restoration, conservation, and protection of the country’s historical movable and immovable objects”.

The same law states the power and functions of the NHCP Board, under Section 7 (D) “to determine the manner of identification, maintenance, restoration, conservation, and preservation of historical sites, shrines, structures and monuments”.

Justifying his appeal for a decision and action, the same letter stated the provincial government and those opposed the demolition have already brought to the attention of agency their sentiments and positions on the matter.

On September 13, 2011, the NHCP recommended three options for the provincial government to choose from. But half of the capitol was demolished sometime in 2013 without the approval of the agency. A Cease and Desist Order (CDO) was later issued by the NHCP effectively stopping further demolition works.

Years passed and the CDO was never lifted even if the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and Sangguniang Bayans of municipalities passed resolutions asking for the lifting of the CDO.

Dalog believed the first option is the win-win solution acceptable to all stakeholders as it will grant the whim of those who want to construct a new provincial capitol building and at the same time preserve its original state to the contentment of those opposed to its demolition.

The first option states preserve the building shell and reconstruct the interior with reinforced concrete or steel framework. This will need prior approval of the architectural design by the NHCP and extensive photo-documentation before, during, and after intervention.

Lacwasan meanwhile said a meeting between him and Diokno has been scheduled on November 29, to negotiate his concerns while adding he is amenable to the recommendation of the NHCP for the reconstruction of the demolished portion into two-storey building.

However, Lacwasan is proposing an underground level will be dug out to serve as parking area and at the same time rebuild a new building that will integrate the façade of the old capitol. (Roger Sacyaten)

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