Senator Sonny Angara called for the inspection and restoration of the heritage sites damaged by the magnitude 7.3 earthquake to ensure their preservation.
At least five persons were killed and over 100 more were injured as a result of the earthquake that originated in Abra recently.
Apart from the human casualties, the quake also damaged infrastructure, residential buildings, and historic/heritage sites, including those in the Ilocos Region.
The Department of Tourism identified the following heritage sites that were damaged by the earthquake: Sta. Catalina de Alejandria Church, San Lorenzo Ruiz Shrine, Vigan Cathedral, Bantay Bell Tower, St. John the Baptist Church, and heritage houses such as the Syquia House in Vigan City.
“There should be no let-up in the effort to provide assistance to the families affected by the calamity.”
“It is heartbreaking to see the destruction caused by the earthquake. There should be no let-up in the effort to provide assistance to the families affected by the calamity, including the rebuilding of their homes so that they can return to their normal lives as early as possible,” Angara said.
While the relief and reconstruction work is underway, the veteran legislator said a parallel effort should be undertaken to protect the historic structures so as not to cause further destruction.
“These historical sites are more than just landmarks and tourist attractions, but form part of our country’s rich culture and heritage,” the seasoned lawmaker stressed.
As the principal author of Republic Act 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act, the senator said there is an endowment fund that can be tapped for the restoration effort.
The establishment of the National Endowment for Culture and the Arts is provided under Article XIV, Section 50 of RA 10066.
He said the fund that is being administered by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts is held in a special account in the Bureau of Treasury and can be used exclusively for the implementation of culture and arts programs and projects.
RA 10066 states that “all cultural properties declared as important cultural property may also receive government funding for its protection, conservation, and restoration.”
The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) has committed to rehabilitating the damaged historic sites and structures with the help of the local government units concerned and the cultural property owners.
Angara also urged the private sector to take part in the relief and reconstruction efforts, including the repair of the damaged historical sites.
“These structures offer us a glimpse into the country’s past and should be preserved for future generations.”
“These structures offer us a glimpse into the country’s past and should be preserved for future generations. The rehabilitation process should also take into consideration introducing improvements to make them up to code, if possible,” he stressed.
The Senator’s father, the late former Senate President Edgardo Angara, was instrumental in the enactment of several landmark laws on the preservation and promotion of culture and the arts including RA 7536 or the NCCA Law and the National Museum Act.