Press Release
February 9, 2008

Senate bill protects historical sites, bans new projects

Alarmed by the destruction of "national historical places" in favor of new property development projects, Sen. Loren Legarda has filed a bill seeking to ban the building of new structures in said sites.

Senate Bill 1093, authored by Legarda, seeks to protect historical sites by prohibiting new construction projects in said places, unless the prospective developer is able to obtain prior clearance from the National Historical Institute (NHI).

"We must guard our historical places if we are to preserve the patriotic and nationalistic ideals of the past, for future generations to cherish," Legarda stressed.

"Historical places are sacred monuments of the past. We must secure them to instill love of country in every Filipino," Legarda said.

Under SB 1093, the NHI would have to identify, designate and mark properly all national historical places across the country. The NHI would then submit to Congress a list of all specified historical sites.

As proposed by Legarda, the sites would include historical government buildings, shrines, landmarks, monuments and other places where a memorable event of national significance occurred.

They would also include other sites hallowed by a hero's former presence.

Under the bill, it would be unlawful for any person, association, corporation or entity to undertake construction projects in historical sites or in areas proximate thereto, without first securing a permit from the NHI.

Violators face up to two years in prison, or a fine of not less than P100,000, or both.

If any limited construction is to be authorized at all, the NHI may impose the terms and conditions necessary to preserve the site. Authorized builders would be required to post bonds to ensure strict compliance with permit provisions.

Should the historical place be damaged, the erring builder would be required to restore the site to its original state.

Section 16, Article XIV of the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides that all the country's artistic and historic wealth constitute the cultural treasure of the nation and should be protected by the State, which may regulate their use.

Prior to the 1987 Constitution, there was the Philippine Historical Research and Markers Committee, created in 1933 by Governor-General Frank Murphy through Executive Order 451.

The committee was directed to identify, designate and mark the many antiquities in the Philippines to keep them for posterity. The committee was abolished following the inauguration of the Commonwealth Government, and replaced by the Philippine Historical Committee (PHC) until the outbreak of World War II.

When the Japanese army occupied the country, the Commission of Education, Health and Public Welfare absorbed the functions of the PHC.

On January 20, 1947, the PHC was reconstituted, placed under the Office of the President and later transferred to the education department. In 28 years, the committee installed about 444 historical markers all over the Philippines.

In response to the need for a historical body with broader functions, the government created the National Historical Commission on July 1, 1965, as a separate bureau under the education department.

In 1972, the NHI was created by virtue of a presidential decree that reorganized the entire executive branch.

To streamline agencies performing work identical to that of the NHI, the government abolished the National Historical Commission, the Intramuros Restoration Committee, the Roxas Memorial Commission, the Quezon Memorial Committee, the Emilio Aguinaldo National Centennial Commission, the Gomez-Burgos-Zamora Centennial Commission and the Pinaglabanan Commemorative Commission. Their functions, records, appropriations, records and properties were transferred to the NHI.

The NHI undertakes research and publication of Philippine historical works, administers educational activities on historical events and personages, restores, preserves and conserves movable and immovable objects of historical value, and oversees the implementation of the National Historic Act as well as the Flag and Heraldic Code.

The NHI, however, lacks the mandate to effectively protect and preserve these historical places.

Legarda's bill seeks to remedy this by requiring all persons, associations, corporations or entities to secure a permit from the NHI before any construction or real estate development may lawfully commence in areas identified, designated and appropriately marked as historical places or in areas proximate thereto.

News Latest News Feed