BAGUIO CITY – An Official of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) declared the recent letter sent by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) enjoining the city government not to further undertake developments within the city hall grounds is merely an advise and not an order.
Edison Molanida, NCCA analyst, informed members of the city council that the NHCP advise given to the city government is simply to allow the Commission to evaluate and assess the plans of the P11.7 million fencing and ground improvement projects within the city hall premises, saying there is nothing wrong if the city government will adhere to such advise.
“Concerned cultural agencies usually pass upon plans of improving the state of declared heritage sites and marked structure that is why there is nothing wrong if the city will just adhere to the NHCP advise not to undertake any development within the city hall grounds,” Molanida stressed.
Councilor Peter Fianza, chairman of the education, culture and historical research, explained the city government will initiate the complete declaration of the city hall as a heritage site through a resolution considering that its current status is simply a marked structure.
Molanida agreed to Fianza’s revelation that city hall was not actually declared a heritage site but instead it is only a marked structure in recognition of its historical significance.
Councilor Fianza disclosed based on the NCCA’s Philippine Registry of Cultural Properties (PRECUP), only the Presidential Mansion has been listed as a declared heritage site while the Baguio Teachers Camp, Baden Powell, Brent School among others are merely marked structures contrary to the insistence of the Baguio Heritage Foundation that the city hall is a declared historical landmark.
According to him, city officials are not against the declaration of city hall as a heritage site because of its significant historical value being the seat of government and the major landmark in the famous Burnham plan.
Councilor Fianza pointed out the need for the creation of a cultural council that will be composed of representatives from various sectors in order to come out with a comprehensive plan on what will be the sites that would be qualified to be declared as heritage sites in order for the city government to facilitate the eventual declaration of such sites as heritage sites.
Fianza explained there are various ways in working out the declaration of sites in the city as heritage areas such that if the proposed heritage site is a private property, the owner, through a mere letter to the NHCP, can request its declaration as a heritage property.
He added if the property to be declared as a heritage site is a public property, the city government can request its declaration as a heritage site through a resolution and if a group is interested to declare a private property as a heritage site, then it can file a petition subject to the confirmation of the concerned local government.
Fianza said the city government must simply await the NHCP decision on the submitted plans by the local government in relation to the on-going fencing and ground improvement project before making its move depending on what will be the findings and recommendations of the Commission relative thereto.
By Dexter A. See