Press Release
May 9, 2023

Pia backs greater protection for national monuments and historical structures
Highlights of the interpellation of Senator Pia S. Cayetano at the Philippine Senate session

Thank you, Mr President. Thank you to the sponsor [Sen. JV Ejercito]. With his kind permission, may I share some of my insights and get his honor's thoughts on it as well? Thank you.

Mr President, I thank his honor for bringing this matter to our attention. This is a very important topic because since the 16th Congress, so that's maybe eight years ago, the Senate has had similar debates, specifically because of the Rizal Monument, which was the subject of a controversy when a building was built, actually not very near it, I can't recall if it was a kilometer, two kilometers, 3 kilometers away. But her honor, Sen. Loren Legarda, who is in deep conversation with Sen. Sonny Angara, brought this up during her sponsorship of her bill around March, wherein her bill included [the protection of the sightlines of historical monuments]. Unfortunately, this was not included in the final version of the bill. But I mention this because time and again, these issues come up. In this particular case, am I correct, Sen JV Ejercito that one issue here is because this is a marker that was created less than 50 years ago, [that] it does not automatically fall under the jurisdiction of NHCP, or NCCA?

So I asked that question because then, what we need to ask ourselves is: what is the authority of the local government versus the national agencies in determining the lifetime of these monuments? I think it's a valid question for us to ask because obviously, the LGUs or whoever initiated it, it could actually be private property, hindi ho ba, Mr sponsor? So I am generalizing my question that, whether it was an LGU that initiated it, a private citizen, maraming mga private organizations who would initiate similar things, how do you protect them within the first 50 years, right? I think that's a valid question for us to ask.

And then, let's assume, in good faith, the clear intention to honor the memory of respected persons, if not nationally, locally, di ba, pwede rin naman local hero yun, ano nga ba ang guidelines nun? Baka talagang there is not enough clarity. And we do know, as a developing country, there really will be a lot of construction and redesigning, so we will keep having these kinds of discussions. So, my point simply is that I commend the gentleman for bringing this to our attention because this is just an example of many similar incidents that are yet to come, is that correct, your honor?

[Sen. JV Ejercito responds]

Your honor, I saw that [referring to the image on screen showing the sculpture that took the place of the monument of Dr. Jose P. Rizal along N. Domingo Street in San Juan] when you were showing it earlier. And I am glad you brought it up again because I missed the explanation na ipinalit yun. So hindi pala siya kailangan mag-give way [to a new structure or to traffic] - choice lang nila na palitan. So iba pa ho ang reason na yun, that we really need to look into. Kasi talagang pinalitan lang.

[Sen. JV Ejercito responds]

Okay. Thank you so much, your honor, for taking the time to show it to this representation again. I just like to read into the record para we can process this and determine if at the proper time, after the hearing, there is reason to amend the existing law:

Under Section 5 of RA 10066, which is known as the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, which Sen. Angara referred to earlier, Section 5 states, "for the purpose of protecting a cultural property against exportation, modification, or demolition, the following works should be considered important cultural properties, unless declared otherwise by the pertinent cultural agencies."

Again, your honor, I am sorry if I missed it. But did you state whether there has been a declaration of this as an important cultural property? Does his honor know?

[Sen. JV Ejercito responds]

Okay. But for the record, these properties referred to are work by a Manlilikha ng Bayan, work by a national artist? And nabanggit niyo po [ang artist] na gumawa ng isa o dalawa dito, o lahat?

[Sen. JV Ejercito responds]

Okay, and then [continues to read the provision] "archeological and traditional ethnographic materials, work of national heroes, marked structures, structures dating at least 50 years old, and archival materials dating at least 50 years old..."

Anyway, I mentioned that, your honors, because it gives us the opportunity to revisit this law and to see what more can we do for protection.

We regret, and I join his honor in expressing our dismay and disappointment na ang monuments na ganito na napaka-importante, hindi lang para sa mga taga-San Juan, pero sa buong Pilipinas, ay basta na lang nawala and hindi ko rin maintindihan bakit napalitan ng mukhang ahas [si Dr. Jose Rizal].

Pero in terms of moving forward and katulad ho ng laban ko sa Rizal Monument, ang hirap hong tanggapin at hindi ko pa rin tanggap na basta na lang mag-move forward. There should be some form of accountability para sa mga ginagawang ganito. And that is why we join his honor in expecting that we will hear explanations during the hearing. Thank you, your honor. Thank you, Mr. President.

News Latest News Feed