Go, Padilla back restoration of quake-hit heritage sites

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Senators Bong Go and Robinhood Padilla on Monday filed a Senate resolution urging the government’s executive branch to immediately support the restoration of cultural heritage sites and national landmarks that were damaged by the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Northern Luzon on July 27.

Go and Padilla said they earlier inspected some of the quake-hit areas and personally assisted over 1,000 earthquake victims in Bangued and Lagangilang in Abra and Vigan City in Ilocos Sur. Go said he and Padilla were “greeted by several destroyed houses, buildings and power lines” when they arrived in Bangued last Sunday.

Go added that in Vigan, parts of the 16th-century Vigan Cathedral’s façade crumbled and cracks marred some century-old ancestral houses and buildings in other heritage sites. 

The quake did not spare several other historic sites in the two provinces, according to the Department of Tourism. Among these sites are Sta. Catalina de Alexandria Church and the San Lorenzo Ruiz Shrine in Abra, both of which had been declared national cultural treasures.

In Ilocos Sur, damage was recorded in the Vigan Cathedral and Syquia House, both in Vigan City; the Bantay Bell Tower in Bantay; and the St. John the Baptist Church in San Juan.

“These historical edifices serve as constant reminders of an important era in our culture (when) we are reminded of our diverse and symbolic history,” Senate Resolution 86 stated.

“These sites are also major tourist attractions, generating income for the local inhabitants. Faster restoration of these sites will help ensure that people regain their livelihoods as soon as possible and, at the same time preserve our culture and traditions,” Go said.

The resolution also noted that according to the Department of Labor and Employment, “thousands of individuals in earthquake-hit areas were displaced from their jobs, including those who work in tourism establishments.”

It added that the restoration of the damaged cultural heritage sites and national landmarks has the end-view of “ensuring the conservation and preservation of their historical significance and the regeneration of affected jobs and livelihoods.”

Meanwhile, to promote disaster resilience in the country, Go maintained the need to create a Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) and establish mandatory evacuation centers in every municipality, city and province across the country.

Senate Bill 188 aims to establish a DDR, which will bring together all essential functions and mandates currently scattered among various disaster-related agencies.

On the other hand, SB 193, or the proposed Mandatory Evacuation Centers Act, will ensure that affected families can take refuge at evacuation centers that are safe, dedicated and equipped with basic necessities.

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