Palace assures China-funded bridge won’t affect World Heritage status of San Agustin Church
Malacañang on Thursday assured that it will not allow the construction of the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge across the Pasig River in Manila to cause the delisting of the San Agustin Church and three other Baroque churches in the country from the Unesco World Heritage Site list.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the stand after Unesco warned that the bridge would encroach on the “buffer zone” that is required for San Augustin Church as a World Heritage Site.
Aside from San Agustin Church in Intramuros, the three other churches that may be removed from the Unesco list are San Agustin in Paoay, Ilocos Norte; Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur; and Santo Tomas de Villanueva in Miag-ao, Iloilo. They were collectively declared as a “Unesco World Heritage Site” in 1993.
“I was listening in the news story yesterday that the contractor is saying that it will not. So we don’t know exactly whether or not it will, because if it will, then certainly it is right to object,” Panelo told reporters in a Palace briefing.
The four edifices were originally built by Augustinian friars and are called the “Baroque Churches of the Philippines.”
The Binondo-Intramuros Bridge can be relocated some “100 meters away,” so it won’t affect the buffer zone of the historic structure, Panelo said.
He added that the government would not allow the intrusion “because (the Church) is a World Heritage. It’s part of our history.”
According to Unesco, the protection not only of the core zone but of the buffer zone is important since the surroundings of a World Heritage (WH) property are “essential components of the conservation strategy.”
The P4.2-billion bridge, which is part of an infrastructure grant by China, is supposed to be completed in 2020. /ee
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