Bong Go

Senators Bong Go, Robin Padilla: Restore quake-affected cultural heritage sites, nat’l landmarks

August 3, 2022 People's Journal 164 views

Bong Go

STRESSING the constitutional mandate of the State to conserve, promote and popularize the nation’s historical and cultural heritage and resources, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go filed Senate Resolution No. 86 on Monday, August 1, urging the Executive Department to immediately support the restoration of cultural heritage sites and national landmarks which were damaged by the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Northern Luzon last July 27.

Together with Sen. Robinhood “Robin” Padilla, who also introduced the said resolution, Go had earlier inspected some of the quake-hit areas and personally assisted over a thousand 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,” shared Go.

“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.

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 cites that “these historical edifices 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 in 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.”

Meanwhile, to promote disaster resilience in the country, Go maintained the need to create a Department of Disaster Resilience 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.

On the other hand, SBN 193 or the proposed Mandatory Evacuation Centers Act will ensure that affected families can take refuge in evacuation centers that are safe, dedicated and equipped with basic necessities.

Go also intends to file a bill amending the National Building Code of the Philippines, which was promulgated over 40 years ago, noting, “Kailangang sumabay ang ating mga batas sa mga pangangailangan ng modernong panahon, lalo na ngayon na mas dumadami at mas tumitindi ang mga kalamidad sa bansa, katulad ng lindol at bagyo. Dapat maisama ang disaster resilience measures sa paggawa ng mga rules ang regulations, mga building plans and technical requirements.”