BONTOC, Mountain Province – The long-delayed decision of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) over the demolished half of the provincial capitol is over.
The agency has opted for the reconstruction of the demolished half part of the capitol and to restore the intact portion, meaning the other half.
In a letter dated October 17, 2016, NHCP Chairperson Maria Serena Diokno informed Provincial Governor Bonifacio Lacwasan of the desire of the NHCP to resolve the long-standing matter of the Cease and Desist Order (CDO) on the provincial capitol.
“Since you have not replied to our letter of 26 September 2016 requesting the proposed restoration plan, our decision is to reconstruct the demolished parts of the old capitol building and restore the intact portion,” stated the letter.
It further directs the provincial government to submit as soon as possible the reconstruction plan of the demolished portion and the restoration plan of the intact portion.
“Once we approve the plans, we will lift the Cease and Desist Order,”assured the NHCP.
It was learned that it is the mandate of the agency to determine the manner of restoration of Important Cultural Properties as provided under Republic Act 10086, Section 5, which states (C) “undertake and prescribe the manner of restoration, conservation, and protection of the country’s historical movable and immovable objects”.
The same law states that the power and functions of the NHCP Board, under Section 7 (D) “to determine the manner of identification, maintenance, restoration, conservation, and preservation of historical sites, shrines, structures and monuments”.
Justifying his appeal for a decision and action, the same letter stated that the provincial government and those opposed to the demolition have already brought to the attention of agency their sentiments and positions on the matter.
It is to be noted that on September 13, 2011 the NHCP recommended three (3) options for the provincial government to choose from. But half of the capitol was demolished sometime in 2013 without the approval of the agency. A Cease and Desist Order (CDO) was later issued by the NHCP effectively stopping further demolition works.
Years passed and the CDO was never lifted even if the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and Sangguniang Bayans of municipalities passed resolutions asking for the lifting of the CDO.
Local officials believed that Option No. 1 is the win-win solution that is acceptable to all stakeholders as it will grant the whim of those who want to construct a new provincial capitol building and at the same time preserve its original state to the contentment of those opposed to its demolition.
Option No. 1 states “Preserve the building shell and reconstruct the interior with reinforced concrete or steel framework. This will need prior approval of the architectural design by the NHCP and extensive photo-documentation before, during, and after intervention.”
Governor Bonifacio Lacwasan, Jr., in an interview last Wednesday said that a meeting between him and Diokno has been scheduled on November 29, 2016. He will be going to Manila to try to negotiate for his concerns.
Lacwasan said that he is amenable to the recommendation of the NHCP for the reconstruction of the demolished portion into two storey building as before.
However, he would like to propose that an underground level will be dug out to serve as parking area. Moreover, he will propose for the dismantling and reconstruction of the existing half of the building so that the provincial capitol would be constructed as new but with the integration of façade of the old capitol.
He revealed that former governor Jaime Gomez had visited him twice and is amenable to his proposal. He claimed that Gomez reiterated for the construction of the two-storey building with all the old façade copied and integrated into the design of the new building.
By Roger Sacyaten