Funds sought to restore heritage churches
The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) is appealing to Malacañang to release funds for the restoration of heritage churches in Pampanga province damaged by a 6.1-magnitude earthquake on Monday.
NHCP Chair Rene Escalante did not say in a press briefing in the Palace on Thursday how much the commission needed for the restoration work, as it was still waiting for a damage report from the Archdiocese of San Fernando.
“What we want is for the archdiocese to consolidate everything … just in case the Department of Budget and Management will ask how much money [we] need. We won’t give a random figure,” Escalante said.
24 churches closed
Twenty-four heritage churches in Pampanga have been closed because of earthquake damage.
Among the damaged churches are Santa Catalina de Alexandria in Porac, San Agustin in Lubao, Metropolitian Cathedral of San Fernando, Holy Rosary and Archdiocesan Shrine of Christ Our Lord of the Holy Sepulcher in Angeles City, Saint James the Apostle in Guagua, Santa Rita de Cascia in Santa Rita and Santa Monica in Minalin.
Escalante said NHCP members had visited five of the damaged churches, adding that the list could grow if the Archdiocese of San Fernando sought help for the restoration of other damaged churches.
He said the archdiocese had done 3D scanning of the structures, making restoration work easier for the NHCP.
If the Palace does not release calamity funds for the restoration work, the NHCP, Escalante said, will request appropriation for the project in next year’s budget.
Escalante said the damage to some of the churches was severe, citing San Agustin Church, whose belfry crashed down in the earthquake.
Sharing the burden
Rebuilding the belfry and repairing the church’s floor may cost more than P10 million, he said.
Escalante said the government need not shoulder all the expenses for the job because the churches were the property of the archdiocese.
If it had funds, the archdiocese could handle part of the cost, he said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.