NHCP: Capitol is taking great risk in proceeding with resource center project

By: Rosalie O. Abatayo February 12,2019 - 08:56 PM

This is an artist’s rendition of the Capitol Resource Center. | file photo from Capitol PIO

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu provincial government is taking a great risk in pursuing with the construction of the 20-story resource center without any clearance from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).

Dr. Rene Escalante, NHCP chairperson, told CDN Digital in a phone interview on Tuesday, February 12, he warned Capitol about this since their requests for Capitol to submit a new development plan for the construction of the resource center went unheeded.

“Negative. They did not submit anything to us and I don’t think they are planning to,” Escalante said.

Crossing risky line

He said that the provincial government had crossed a very risky line in proceeding with the construction of the building since any taxpayer could stand and file a case against the Capitol officials.

“We don’t have jurisprudence yet at this point. it might be another landmark case. We will see how the court will interpret the law,” Escalante added.

Escalante said that if there will be a person who will seek legal relief over the construction of the building, the NHCP will most likely side the complainant because of the Capitol’s nonsubmission of a new development plan despite the Provincial Administrator Mark Tolentino’s claims that they and the NHCP had agreed that no development plan was needed.

Construction continues

At present, the construction firm that will build the resource center has already installed fencing surrounding the dilapidated Baex building which will be demolished to make way for the groundwork of the resource center.

The construction of the P1.3-billion resource center has been opposed by heritage advocates since the NHCP first commented that it would destroy the impression of symmetry with respect to the main Capitol building which was declared a heritage site in 2008.

Read more: Cebu Provincial Board gives nod to P1.3 billion loan with DBP for 20-storey resource center project

No need for dev’t plan

Provincial Administrator Tolentino earlier claimed that during a meeting with Escalante mid of 2018, the province and NHCP agreed that a new development plan would no longer be needed.

“I can confirm that nagmeeting kami. But sa tanong kung hindi na kailangan [ang new development plan], ang mga bagay na ito ay hindi lamanag pinag-uusapan. This must be put in writing. I cannot recall. We dont give verbal clearance. Our clearances are always in writing for legal purposes and we at the NHCP have not released any clearance,” Escalante said.

Legalities tackled

Escalante explained that during his meeting with Tolentino, they have discussed the need to have the new building, the legalities and how to proceed with the construction.

“May ilang issues lang na hindi kami nagkapreho ng interpretation. Ang interpretation kasi nila is ang Capitol building lang ang protected. Ang paliwanag ko sa kanila, the issue is not only the line of sight but the buffer zone. Ang problema kasi nitong Capitol building sa Cebu is that the new building to be constructed is, from our point of view, still a part of the buffer zone,” said Escalante.

Escalante however said that there is no jurisprudence yet if the buffer zone should be part of the protected area./dbs

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