BAGUIO CITY – The city government stood firm on its earlier position that the City Hall building has not yet been official declared as a historic landmark but instead it remains as a marked structure as per the admission of the arguments of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) in its cease and desist order over the P11.7 million City Hall fencing and ground improvement project.
Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan argued NCCA Chairperson Felipe M. de Leon erred in unilaterally issuing the cease and desist order over the City Hall fencing and ground improvement project because his conclusions derived from his arguments were virtually misplaced that is tantamount to grave abuse of authority on his part.
In the city’s petition to lift cease and desist order, Domogan pointed out the plans and specifications of the project were being reviewed by the experts from the National Historic Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) as per earlier verbal agreement; thus, the NCCA has no jurisdiction to step into the shoes of a body under it already tasked to review the project plans and designs submitted to it.
“The claim of the NCCA that the City Hall building is a Grade III presumed important cultural project is again contrary to the classification of the City Hall building as defined in its website which is Level II marked structure,” Domogan stressed.
The local chief executive asserted that what was earlier marked by the former National Historic Institute (NHI), now known as the NHCP, was the building and using the NCCA’s arguments that there is a 5-meter buffer zone from the marked structure in order to ensure its protection, the City Hall fencing and improvement project is way beyond the buffer zone enshrined under the law.
According to him, NCCA also misinterpreted the provisions of Republic Act (RA) No. 1005 or the National Heritage Act of 2009 that what is covered by the concerned cultural agencies are declared, classified and marked heritage sites; thus, the city hall has only been marked but not yet classified and declared.
He emphasized the city hall fencing and improvement project will not in any way destroy the architectural design and disrupt the view of the marked structure but instead protect the City Hall premises from burglars so that the parking area could be used as an added pay parking facility during weekends when there is an enormous influx of visitors to the city.
Domogan cited once the NCCA will not act on the city government’s petition to lift the cease and desist order, the city government will be constrained to file the appropriate petition before the Court of Appeals (CA) while the contractor will also file his pertinent charges against the erring NCCA officials before the Ombudsman.
He claimed it is unfair for NCCA to unilaterally issue the cease and desist order when they have not even visited the project site and listened to the city government’s arguments on the matter, saying that mere speculative views of people who claim to have the monopoly of good plans for the city is considered grave abuse of authority and grave abuse of discretion, thus, NCCA officials deserve to be charged before the proper courts.
By Dexter A. See