Senate leaders look for money to rebuild gutted Manila Central Post Office

Senate leaders look for money to rebuild gutted Manila Central Post Office
Firefighters work to extinguish the blaze that engulfs the Manila Central Post Office on Monday, May 22, 2023.
Release / Bureau of Fire Protection

MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senate finance panel chairperson Juan Edgardo Angara will be pushing for funding for the restoration of the Manila Central Post Office, an iconic pre-war building that was hit by a massive fire during the early hours of Monday.

Angara shared on Twitter that Zubiri messaged him that they should work with the Department of Budget and Management “towards finding funds to help restore the Post Office.”

He said he agreed with the Senate president as the building is a “national treasure.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, meanwhile, expressed deep sadness over the fire that engulfed the Post Office, which is an important cultural property and a national historical landmark.

“It is indeed a tragic and heartbreaking incident,” Legarda said. “I call on our authorities to investigate the cause of the fire so that this occurrence will never happen again. We must protect our historical sites such as this significant architectural inheritance.”

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House Deputy Speaker Ralph Recto said the government should move quickly to rebuild the Post Office building by tapping into the P13-billion Contingent Fund that President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. controls or the Calamity Fund, which had a balance of P19.03 billion at the start of the year.

Recto said big business can also help in reconstructing the Post Office through donations, which will be tax exempt pursuant to Republic Act No. 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.

The Post Office is the headquarters of the government-owned and controlled Philippine Postal Corp. and also houses the main mail sorting and distribution operations of the country.

Recto said PHLPost cannot handle the task of rebuilding the Post Office alone as it lacks funds.

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“The Post Office is an art work designed and built by Filipino geniuses. It was an architectural jewel of the bygone Pearl of the Orient,” he said.

The neoclassical building designed by renowned Filipino architects Juan Arellano and Tomás Mapúa began construction in 1926.

During the Battle of Manila in World War II, the building was severely damaged. It was rebuilt in 1946. — Xave Gregorio

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