BAGUIO CITY – The city government is inclined to question the injunctive powers of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) in enjoining the local government to pursue its fencing and ground improvement project that is purposely geared towards enhancing the state of the city hall grounds and to beautify its landscape.
Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan said the city government will submit to the NHCP the plans of the P11.7 million fencing and ground improvement project not bow down to its demand but for purposes of transparency to show the Commission that the local government does not intend to obstruct the view of the city hall building and destroy the architecture and instead improve the state of the city hall premises.
“The city hall fencing project is to ensure the safety and security of individuals transacting with the government. It is unfortunate that our hands our tied once we try to introduce improvements in our backyard,” Domogan stressed.
The local chief executive asserted the city hall building has not yet been officially declared as a heritage site or historical marker considering the absence of a formal NHCP resolution declaring the city hall structure as a heritage building although it was already marked as a heritage building.
According to him, formal declaration of the city hall building as a heritage building is totally different from simply marking the same as a heritage building that is why NHCP must be able to prove that there was already a formal declaration of city hall as a heritage building.
He emphasized city officials support the declaration of city hall as a heritage building provided that it must pass through the lawful procedures outlined under the new law protecting heritage and historical landmarks in order to ensure close coordination among concerned government agencies and the local government.
Domogan said there is nothing wrong in declaring city hall as a heritage building provided that the local government mu7st be consulted about the matter or it will be the one to initiate the filing of a petition for its declaration as a heritage landmark to show NHCP the actual procedures in the filing of petitions to declare heritage sites in the city.
Earlier, the NHCP enjoined the city government to refraim from undertaking any development work or changes within the city hall building and grounds until the Commission shall have approved the plans for the fencing and ground improvement project.
In a letter to Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan, Dr. Maria Serena I. Diokno, NHCP Chairperson, explained the city hall and areas surrounding the building such as the parking and flagpole areas are included in the building landscape and therefore form part of the city hall property.
She disclosed the city hall bares an NHCP marker that was installed sometime in February 2009 under the old law and is therefore a heritage and historical building.
However, Section 8 of Republic Act (RA) 10066 or the new law for the protection of heritage and historical sites provides that if a heritage site or historical landmark has been declared as such under the old law, there is a need to confirm the same through the petition of the owner with the subsequent conduct of consultations with the affected stakeholders prior to the formal declaration of the areas as heritage sites or historical landmarks.
“The fencing and improvement of the city hall grounds would be acceptable provided they do not construct the view and prominence of the structure and enhance the overall architectural integrity of the site,” Diokno said.
On the other hand, Diokno disclosed she understands the plan for a parking areas in Burnham Park is still in the conceptual stage and that no commercial structure will be constructed in the Melvin Jones football field.
The NHCP official also enjoined the city government not to conduct any public bidding whatsoever in relation to the development of Burnham Park without the Commission’s approval of the plans.
By Dexter A. See