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NCCA joins fray, tells Dep’t of Transportation to stop BRT works

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | March 27,2024 - 10:35 AM

NCCA joins fray, tells Dep’t of Transportation to stop BRT works. In photo is a file photo of the BRT works along Fuente Osmeña in Cebu City.

Construction is ongoing along Osmeña Boulevard in front of the Cebu Capitol Building for the Cebu BRT. | CDN Digital Photo by Pia Piquero

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The tussle involving the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and ‘preserving the heritage’ of the Cebu Capitol Building has not yet ended.

This time, a national government agency wanted to halt civil works for the P17-billion, much-delayed mass transport system in order to protect heritage sites surrounding it.

READ: Rama asks Malacañang to suspend Gwen over CBRT dispute

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) has requested the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to stop the construction of the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

In a letter, NCCA chair Victorino Mapa Manalo asked DOTr Undersecretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure, Anneli Lonctoc to cease conducting ‘work or changes’ in the area pending review and assessment there.

Copies of the letter, dated March 24, 2024, was furnished to members of the media. It was also issued days after the NCCA met with Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia to discuss, among others, the ‘impact of the BRT project’ on preserving the Capitol building’s heritage.

READ: Tom Osmeña dares Gwen: Get a court injunction to halt CBRT construction

Manalo has also asked the DOTr to provide their agency with the Archeological Impact Assessment (AOA) and development plans of the Cebu BRT in compliance of the National Cultural Heritage Act and the General Appropriations Act.

“In the meantime, we enjoin the DOTr not to conduct any work or changes in the area – especially excavation works – until we approve your AIA and development plans,” the top NCCA official said.

“This is parallel to the review (that) the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) is currently making on the project given their concurrent jurisdiction over the matter,” he added.

Garcia earlier ordered to halt construction of the Cebu BRT over potential violation of heritage laws, a move backed by several Cebu City officials like Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia but also earned the ire of local Cebu City officials, particularly Mayor Michael Rama.

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According to the NCCA, the provincial government pointed out that ongoing construction may impact ‘visual sight lines’ and ‘buffer zones’ of the Capitol Building, a National Historical Landmark.

Built in the 1930s, the Capitol is one of the few surviving neoclassical and Art Deco structures in Cebu.

The Cebu BRT, on the other hand, will have routes traversing major roads in the city like N. Bacalso Avenue and Osmeña Boulevard, the latter of which links the Capitol to downtown.

As of March 26, construction continued for the Cebu BRT near the Capitol compound.

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TAGS: Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT), National Commission on Culture and Arts (NCCA)

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