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PNoy to seek private sector's help to rebuild damaged churches

A private guard stands near the damaged Basilica of the Holy Child following a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit Cebu city in central Philippines and toppled the bell tower of the Philippines' oldest church Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013. The tremor collapsed buildings, cracked roads and toppled the bell tower of the church Tuesday morning, causing multiple deaths across the central region and sending terrified residents into deadly stampedes. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III will also seek the help of the private sector in restoring the centuries-old churches damaged by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Central Visayas on Tuesday.

"I just don't wanna commit right now... but at the minimum, you can expect me to help getting the private sector to help... as far as the historical churches are concerned," Aquino said during his televised meeting in Bohol with Cabinet and local officials.

Aquino said the damaged churches must be restored to at least their previous physical look but their structures should be made complaint with new building laws.

Read: Iconic Phl churches crumble

According to the report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), among the churches damaged by the deadly quake was the collapsed San Pedro Church in Loboc, Bohol.

Meanwhile, the facade and bell tower of the Baclayon Church was totally damaged. In Cebu City, the bell tower of the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño also collapsed.

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The Department of Public Works and Highways said other historical churches in Bohol that received the earthquake brunt include the Cortes, Maribooc, Loon and Dawis churches.

In Cebu, the Dalaguete Church sustained multiple cracks, the agency said.

The National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and the National Museum will be the lead agencies in the restoration efforts for the damaged churches.

A joint group called the Heritage Task Force will be created, which will coordinate closely with the Church and national and local government agencies in the rescue and restoration effort.

The NCCA said majority of the churches are protected by the Heritage Law since they have been declared as national cultural treasures and historical landmarks, and important cultural properties.

"On our part, we express our commitment to rescue and later, rehabilitate, damaged heritage structures, many of them churches that have been part of the life of the people for centuries, in collaboration with the Catholic Church, local government officials and communities," the NCCA Board said in a statement.

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