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RESTORE QUAKE-DAMAGED HERITAGE CHURCHES – ANGARA

Reelectionist Senator Sonny Angara is urging government and the private sector to work together in restoring centuries-old churches in Pampanga that have been damaged by the recent magnitude 6.1 earthquake, saying these structures are considered “national treasures” that must be preserved for future generations.

“Regardless of one’s faith, these churches are part of our cultural and national heritage. It is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations,” Angara said.

“These churches are part of our cultural and national heritage.” 

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) recently said it would ask Malacañang to release calamity funds or allocate funds in the 2020 national budget for the restoration of damaged Pampanga heritage churches.

It was reported that 24 heritage churches in Pampanga had been closed due to earthquake damage. These include the Santa Catalina de Alexandria Church in Porac, the San Agustin Church in Lubao, the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Fernando, the Holy Rosary and Archdiocesan Shrine of Christ Our Lord of the Holy Sepulcher in Angeles City, the church of Saint James the Apostle in Guagua, the Santa Rita de Cascia Church in Santa Rita, and the Santa Monica Church in Minalin.

The seasoned legislator said the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) also has an endowment fund intended for the restoration of damaged heritage structures, as provided for under Republic Act 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act, which he had principally authored.

The veteran lawmaker said that Section 7 of the law explicitly provides that “all cultural properties declared as national cultural treasures and national historical landmarks, sites or monuments shall be entitled to priority government funding for protection, conservation and restoration.”

Meanwhile, Angara also called on the private sector to get involved and hasten the repair and reconstruction of the damaged churches, saying the restoration of heritage sites is not only the duty of the government.

“The restoration of heritage sites is not only the duty of the government.”

Under the heritage law, incentives are extended to the private sector for supporting conservation and restoration of national cultural treasures under the NCCA’s Conservation Incentive Program.

Angara’s father, the late Senate President Edgardo Angara authored the legislation that created the NCCA, the overall policy-making body, coordinating, and grant-giving agency for the preservation, development and promotion of Philippine arts and culture.

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