Church heritage body loses members

CEBU. Architect Melva Java. (SunStar File)

CEBUANO architect and heritage expert Melva Java tendered her resignation as a member of the Cebu Archdiocesan Commission for the Cultural Property of the Church (ACCPC) on Tuesday, Jan. 15.

In her letter to Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, Java cited the former’s decision to take the side of Cebu Landmasters Inc. in demolishing the old Patria de Cebu as her reasons for resigning.

Aside from Java, her fellow co-members in the ACCPC are also considering resigning en masse following the decision of the Archdiocese to disregard Java’s findings.

Jobers Bersales, a member of the ACCPC, said that aside from him, also resigning are members Eileen Mangubat, Omar Maxwell Espina, Rudy Alix and his wife Louella, Audrey Dawn Tomada, Bonifacio Ramo, Teresita Escano Manguerra and Mary Frances Despi.

Only one member of the Commission didn’t state her plan to resign, Bersales added.

In her letter, Java said that during many forums with Palma, she reminded him and church officials that Patria de Cebu needs protection as it is “very precious to the people of Cebu.”

She admitted that her view to protect the Patria stand in “diametrical opposition” to that of Fr. Brian Brigoli, ACCPC chair, which supported the demolition of the Patria in favor of building a development at the site.

But it was Palma’s decision to favor the Patria’s demolition that sealed her decision to resign from the ACCPC.

“I have patiently listened to the counter arguments, but cannot find any justification to demolish Patria when it can sit side by side with a new development. The final blow came with your (Palma) decision to also take the side of the developer,” Java said in her letter.

Though the letter has been received by Palma’s office, the 68-year-old prelate has yet to read it as he is currently in Guam on official business.

Since last year, Java led a campaign to ask the Archdiocese from proceeding with its plan to demolish the Patria due to the 60-year-old building’s heritage value.

In an interview, Java clarified that she didn’t resign out of anger to Palma and members of the Archdiocese’s Administration Board, adding that it was done after “thorough discernment.”

Separately, Brigoli said he refuses to comment on Java’s resignation.

As to the plan of the ACCPC members to resign, Brigoli said, while he respects their decision, he urged them to reconsider. (JKV)


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