by ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
BONTOC, Mountain Province — The Local Government Units of this province urged the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) to recall its cease and desist order (CDO) it issued two years ago which ordered the LGU not to demolish the present provincial capitol because of its historical significance.
The provincial government is pushing for the construction of a bigger capitol building to address the pressing need for more office space, according to Gov. Leonard G. Mayaen, in a press conference here.
The development was also due to the wear and tear of the building which makes it a fire hazard, with a leaking roof, and shaky posts or foundation as vibrations are felt whenever cars pass by.
The development of the capitol building was approved after exchanges of letters between the governor then and the NHCP chair Dr. Maria Serena I. Diokno were made in 2011 to 2013. The LGU was given permission and options for the old structure, the LGU chose option no. 3 which provided: “Dismantle the wooden building wing and integrate its façade into the new (replacement) building. This will need prior approval of the architectural design by the NHCP and extensive photo-documentation before, during and after intervention.”
Diokno, in her letter dated 23 March 2012 gave her approval on the development after the LGU submitted its architectural design.
“With reference to the submitted architectural design of the proposed new capitol building in Bontoc, Mountain Province, showing integration of the old components to the new structure, and its review/assessment by our technical staff, the NHCP has no objection to the proposed project. We urge the governor to develop the area harmoniously with the existing built environment,” stated the said letter.
The provincial government demolished and dismantled the building from March to the 3rd week of April 2013 after the Sangguniang Panglalawigan approved resolution No. 2013-026 that authorized the provincial executive to push for the project.
Earlier on February 6, the construction was awarded to AHB Construction and Supply.
From the development of the events, however, Diokno issued a Cease and Desist Order dated April 25, 2013 based on a letter of protest by Ezra Gomez, a resident of Bontoc.
The governor personally received said the CDO on June 10 when he returned to his office after being re-elected. He immediately halted their development as per CDO but submitted a position paper contesting such order on the said date.
The state of the capitol building
The NHCP invoked RA 100066 where a 50 year old building is presumed an important cultural property and therefore part of the cultural heritage and for preservation.
This reporter learned that the wooden capitol building composed of two storeys was built by the Americans in 1907 while the back portion was built between the 1930s to 40s.
In the 1970s, new structures were added in the right and left wings of the old building as offices of the governor and vice-governor. In 1990, an improvement was introduced at the porch of the first and second floors at the front of the building where the columns made of bricks were concreted finished with a brick-like design, the wooden floors was concreted, and the wooden railings were changed to customized concrete rails.
The ceilings were replaced with new materials and design, and the wooden walls of the first and second floors facing the Plaza were removed and replaced with concrete.
In 2007, the back portions of the building was demolished to give way to two new four storey concrete buildings finished in 2009.
“These constructions, modifications, alterations, and repairs through the years betray the presumption that the present capitol building is an important Cultural Property within the purview of RA 10066,” stated Mayaen’s letter to Diokno adding:
“Its present condition and appearance do not resemble, even 50 percent, its state and appearance 50 years ago or more.”
As the NHCP chair has no answer to their position submitted two years ago, Mayaen urged the said office to allow the development of the capitol building for the necessity of their offices and employees.
When the development was being coined in 2012, 80 percent of the provincial employees agreed for the development which was reiterated by the SP Resolution no. 2013-026 in January 2013.# nordis.net