NCCA to visit stalled Sta. Rita churchyard project

SAN RITA -- Representatives from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) have been invited to personally look into the stalled churchyard project of the Santa Rita de Cascia Parish as officials of the Parish Pastoral Council here are expected to shed light on the contested project, a source from the parish said.

The source who refused to be named said that some people critical of current parish priest Msgr. Abelardo Basilio have been complaining of the project. The same people, the source said have been behind the moves to have the parish priest removed and have closely identified themselves with former parish priest Msgr. Eugenio Reyes who is currently the rector of the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Fernando.

The Parish Pastoral Council of Santa Rita has put a stop to the project just before Holy Week and construction has not resumed since. The NCCA said that the church is an Important Cultural Property according to section 5(1) of Republic Act 100066, or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.

The Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) of Santa Rita and Parish Priest Monsignor Abelardo Basilio initiated the project since February and was visited by Archbishop Florentino Lavarias twice. The PPC also met in a conference with Auxiliary Bishop Pablo David to discuss the said project and incorporate suggestions from the Archdiocese's own heritage committee.

A priest privy to the discussions said that the belated letter of the NCCA is yet another political move against the town's parish priest. The project was consulted with and allegedly approved by the Archdiocese of San Fernando and was even visited by Lavarias before the NCCA stepped in.

The PPC is expected to show to the NCCA that the project does not involve the church structure but merely a continuation of earlier development works started during the term of Reyes, the source added.

Meanwhile, opponents and Basilio and his supporters have met Lavarias in the City of San Fernando in an obvious attempt to have the two groups be reconciled. No positive development has resulted from the meeting as of press time.

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