BAGUIO CITY – The National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) ordered the city government to cease and desist from implementing the fencing and improvement of the city hall grounds project, inclusive of the construction of an enclosure fence and other infrastructures within and around the visible perimeter of the site of the built heritage in the absence of project plans and designs approved by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and of a written permission from the NCCA to carry out the said project.
In a 2-page order, Filepe M. de Leon, Jr., NCCA Chairman, cited failure on the part of the city government to comply with the cease and desist order may constitute a criminal offense against concerned local officials under the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 10066 and administrative offense under pertinent laws.
“It is the duty of this Commission, under NCCA Board Resolution No. 2014-443 and 2014-448, and on the recommendation after complete staff work by the NCCA Secretariat, to act on cases involving PICPs which include built heritage/marked structure,” de Leon stated in the cease and desist order.
The NCCA official pointed out the Baguio city hall is a built heritage/marked structure classified as a considered/presumed important cultural property (PICP), pursuant to Section 5© of RA No. 10066 otherwise known as the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, and categorized as Grade III cultural property pursuant to Section 7.1 of the implementing rules and regulations of the said law.
Furthermore, he cited Section 3(b) of 10076, or the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) law, and Section 3(c) of RA 10066, distinguish declared historical structures/sites from marked structures/sites.
“As a built heritage under Section 3(f) of RA 10066, the historical and cultural significance of the Baguio city hall, reside in its immediate structure, a government building, and its settings and landscapes,” de Leon added.
As a presumed important cultural property, he claimed the Baguio city hall is protected against modification or demolition, pursuant to Section 5 of RA No. 10066.
The NCCA confirmed the on-going implementation of the Baguio city hall fencing and improvement project amounting to P11.7 million which is inclusive of the construction of an enclosure fence and other infrastructures within and around the visible perimeter of the sites.
De Leon cited Section 48(b) of RA 10066 which states that the modification, alteration, or destruction of the original features of, or undertakes construction of real estate development in any national shrine, monument, landmark and other historic edifices and structures declared, classified, and marked by the NHCP, inclusive of their designated security or buffer zone extending five meters from the visible perimeter of the monument or site, is not allowed without the prior written permission of the NCCA.
Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan ordered the city building and architecture’s office to comply with the cease and desist order and direct the contractor to temporarily stop the project to allow the local government the leeway to question the validity of the said cease and desist order.
“We will also question the authority and basis of the NCCA in issuing the cease and desist order without even hearing our side and we will do the same with the proper forum,” Domogan stressed.
It can be recalled that NHCP representatives already got copies of the city hall fencing and ground improvement project plans and specifications for their review pursuant to an earlier request of NHCP Chairperson Maria Serena V. Diokno but the NCCA already dipped its fingers on the matter without awaiting the decision of the NHCP.