Gov’t to turn old tourism building to museum annexBy Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer
With a P500-million budget, the government is set to “retrofit” the old Department of Tourism (DOT) building in Rizal Park as an extension facility of the National Museum, the country’s repository of its natural and cultural heritage.
The project funds were initially part of the 2013 infrastructure budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
However, the allocation was transferred to the National Historical Commission late last year in time for President Aquino’s signing of the 2013 General Appropriations Act, or the national budget.
By 2014, the National Museum plans to take over the DOT building.
Elizabeth Pilorin, head of the DPWH public information division, told the Inquirer the DPWH “will undertake the DOT building retrofitting project unless the NHC decides to enter into a memorandum of agreement with another agency.”
In the DPWH infrastructure program report, the National Museum project called “Adaptive Reuse and Retrofit of the old DOT building to be the National Museum of Natural History” is listed as Item No. 9.
The same report shows the P500-million deduction from the original program budget of P144.3 billion.
Also on the list are the following projects and their respective budgets: Highways, P100.9 billion; flood control, P15.8 billion; feasibility studies and preliminary and detailed engineering works for road and flood control projects, P1.68 billion; payment of right of way and contractual obligations, P3.8 billion; public-private partnership strategic support fund, P3 billion; basic education facilities, P14.1 billion; health facilities, P2.78 billion; various infrastructure projects, P1.07 billion; disaster-related rehabilitation projects, P600 million; septage and sewerage systems and rain collectors, P500 million, and access facilities for disabled persons, P5 million.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer on Monday tried to reach National Museum officials for comment on the development.
The facility has just completed a two-year P20-million restoration of its current home, the old Congress building also in Manila.
In early 2011, the National Museum received P178-million from the state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) as part of the P250-million fund allotted for the “promotion of the nation’s cultural heritage.”
The museum had earlier received P72 million since it started receiving funds from Pagcor but remittances were withheld in 2005.
Under Republic Act No. 8492, he “National Museum Act of 1998,” Pagcor was mandated to set aside a total of P250 million for the museum.
Jeremy Barns, National Museum director, earlier said that with the funding from Pagcor, they could proceed with badly needed renovations at the museum.