NHCP stops renovation of Antique church plaza
ILOILO CITY—The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) has ordered the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to stop the renovation of a church plaza in Anini-y town, Antique province, for “desecrating the spacious and magnificent façade of the church.”
NHCP Chair Rene Escalante issued a cease-and-desist order to Joselito Antonio, acting head of the DPWH district engineering office in Antique, suspending all rehabilitation activities at the plaza of St. John Nepomuceno parish church.
In his Feb. 9 letter, Escalante also directed Antonio’s office to coordinate with the NHCP “immediately.”
The P19.29-million project involves the construction of a covered walkway in front of the church.
Escalante said the NHCP installed in August 2004 a historical marker at the church, pointing out that all Spanish and American period plazas and public structures were considered national historical sites.
“Any untoward alteration or modification that might affect the historical and structural integrity of this church must be coordinated first with the national cultural agencies,” he said.
The church, which has undergone restoration by the NHCP, was built from coral stones in 1845 and was damaged during World War II in the 1940s and a typhoon in 1973.
In a statement, Antique Rep. Loren Legarda also asked the DPWH to stop the project.
“I will not allow any national or local government funds to be used for the desecration of any heritage building or cultural property. Clearly, the covered walkway being constructed in front of the St. John de Nepomuceno Church in Anini-y, as part of the rehabilitation project of the church plaza, is obstructing the magnificent view of the church and, in a way, desecrates this heritage site,” she said.
Legarda called on the DPWH to work closely with local government and parish officials, and the NHCP to “remedy this unfortunate situation in accordance with the law.”
Antonio said the DPWH on Monday would meet with representatives of the NHCP and other groups involved in the project to discuss their concerns.
The project is about 50-percent complete and partially blocks the view of the left side of the church façade, he said.
—NESTOR P. BURGOS JR.
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