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Who’s first to help Philpost?
CONSISTENT with its reputation to respond to call of service with dispatch, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) was the first government agency to reach out to the fire-ravaged Philippine Postal Office (Philpost) building in Intramuros, Manila.
Wasting no time, the state pension fund immediately buckled down to assist in the restoration of the public corporation’s building.
The building caught fire on May 20, 2023.
The damaged Philpost building and its contents are insured with the GSIS for P604 million.
To facilitate the insurance claims, GSIS quickly dispatched its adjusters to the fire scene even though no fire-out has been declared yet.
It also deployed drones to completely evaluate the affected structures.
“We are very much aware of the historical significance of the building and we would like to assist in its rebuilding efforts in every possible way,” GSIS President and General Manager Wick Veloso said.
GSIS will offer its warehouse in Pasig to serve as Philpost’s temporary workplace. Philpost needs a transitory workplace to allow it to seamlessly maintain its vital services while its restoration is going on.
GSIS is also willing to extend a loan to Philpost for the reconstruction of the building.
The building has been declared an Important Cultural Property by the National Museum of the Philippines. Its loss will have a huge impact on our rich cultural heritage.
“We need to bring it back to its original splendor,” Veloso said.
While GSIS was responding to the scene, fire was still ongoing in the Philpost building but in a controlled situation as it continues to emit smoke.
Philpost will inform GSIS immediately once a clearance is issued by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) to enable GSIS to schedule a full-blown site inspection to determine the extent of damage sustained by the insured properties.
According to Philpost, it would be impossible to gain entry inside the building last Saturday its still unsafe, tightly secured and cordoned by the responding BFP team.
The Philpost building was designed by Juan Arellano and Tomas Mapua in the neoclassical style and was completed in 1926.
It was the main mail-sorting and distribution hub in the Philippines and was the central office for the Philippine Postal Corporation.
The building was also a popular tourist destination, known for its grand architecture and its collection of stamps.
Following GSIS, The Department of Tourism (DOT) reported it’s also ready to assist in the rehabilitation of the Manila Central Post Office.
The DOT regards the decades-old structure as a “cultural treasure”, adding it deserves national attention and support.
“We note the remarks that has been made by the city government of Manila that has assured that it will not be torn down and from our end in the DOT, recognizing the heritage value of this structure, we are prepared to follow through on the direction that the Marcos administration would take in terms of how to rehabilitate the structure,” Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco said.
“Especially considering that our attached agency, TIEZA (Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority] has long led the assistance in terms of rehabilitation of heritage structures,” she added.
Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna earlier allayed fears that a new structure would rise in Liwasang Bonifacio, where the post office is located, saying the building is protected by local and national declarations.
The fire started at the General Services Department of the Manila Central Post Office building 11:41 p.m. on Sunday and raged on for over 30 hours until it was declared out at 6:33 a.m. on Tuesday.
The national historical landmark is protected by the Heritage Law.
It also suffered damage from World War II in 1945 and was rebuilt the following year.
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