Senators Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go and Robinhood Padilla, in a joint effort, wanted immediate government support in the restoration of quake-affected cultural heritage sites and national landmarks
Stressing the constitutional mandate of the State to conserve, promote and popularize the nation’s historical and cultural heritage and resources, Go filed Senate Resolution 86 on 1 August, urging the Executive Department to immediate restoration of heritage sites and national landmarks damaged by the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Northern Luzon last 27 July.
With Sen. Padilla, who co-sponsored the resolution, Go earlier inspected some of the quake-hit areas and personally assisted over 1,000 earthquake victims in Bangued and Lagangilang, Abra, and Vigan City, Ilocos Sur.
“Upon arriving in the town of Bangued last Sunday, 31 July, I and my team, together with fellow Senator Robinhood Padilla, were greeted by several destroyed houses, buildings and power lines,” Go shared.
“Meanwhile, in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, parts of the facade of the 16th-century Vigan Cathedral have crumbled and cracks have marred some century-old ancestral houses and buildings in several other heritage sites,” he added.
Several historic sites in the two provinces that Go and Padilla visited were not spared from the disastrous impact of the earthquake, according to the Department of Tourism. These include the Sta. Catalina de Alexandria Church and the San Lorenzo Ruiz Shrine in Abra, both of which had been declared as National Cultural Treasures.
Legacy edifices affected
Meanwhile in Ilocos Sur, damages were recorded in the Vigan Cathedral and Syquia House, both in Vigan City; the Bantay Bell Tower in Bantay; and the St. John the Baptist Church in San Juan.
The resolution cited “historical edifices” which serve as constant reminders of “an important era in our culture where we are reminded of our diverse and symbolic history.”
Go also remarked: “These sites are also major tourist attractions, generating income for the local inhabitants. Faster restoration of these sites will help ensure that people regain their livelihoods as soon as possible and, at the same time, preserve our culture and traditions.”
The resolution went on to note that according to the Department of Labor and Employment, “thousands of individuals in earthquake-hit areas were displaced from their jobs, including those who work for tourism establishments.”
Thus, it added that the restoration of the damaged cultural heritage sites and national landmarks has the end view of “ensuring the conservation and preservation of their historical significance and the regeneration of affected jobs and livelihoods.”
Go pitches for resilience
Meanwhile, to promote disaster resilience in the country, Go maintained the need to create a Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) and to establish mandatory evacuation centers in every municipality, city and province across the country.
“I have long been pushing for these bills. I filed them in the 18th Congress and once again filed them as among my priority measures in the 19th Congress because the Philippines’ experiences with natural disasters have shown that the existing laws, policies, resources and institutional arrangements governing disaster management lack responsiveness to the country’s requirements for disaster resilience.”
Senate Bill 188 aims to establish a DDR which will bring together all essential functions and mandates currently scattered among various disaster-related agencies.
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