Rebuild Central Post Office with calamity funds – Recto
MANILA, Philippines — The Manila Central Post Office building, which was hit by a fire earlier, can be rebuilt using contingency and calamity funds, House Deputy Speaker and Batangas 6th District Rep. Ralph Recto said on Monday.
In a statement, Recto said the government could utilize its P13 billion contingent fund under the control of the President, and the P19.03 billion calamity fund under the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, to restore the establishment.
He said the Post Office Building, which sits near Intramuros and the Manila City Hall, is one of the country’s important historical landmarks.
“Pwede pagkunan ang (we can get funds from the) P13 billion Contingency Fund, which is the national emergency fund, which the President controls. Nandiyan din ang (also present is the) NDRRMC or Calamity Fund, which has a beginning 2023 available balance of P19.03 billion. The fire which hit this national historical landmark is undoubtedly a certifiable disaster,” Recto said.
“Under RA (Republic Act No.) 10066, or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, ‘national historical landmarks, sites or monuments’ shall be entitled to ‘priority government funding for protection, conservation and restoration’,” he stressed.
Recto also noted rich business people could contribute financially since the Philippine Postal Corporation alone cannot afford to fund the repairs.
“Taipans can also help in reconstruction, and their donations, under Section 35 of RA 10066 ‘shall be exempt from the donor’s tax and the same shall be considered as allowable deduction from the gross income in the computation of the income tax of the donor,’” he explained.
“Hindi kaya ng pondo ng Philippine Postal Corporation ang pagbangon. In 2020, net surplus nito ay negative P240 million. Lugi pa. Noong 2021, nakapagtala ng positive net surplus na P106 million, kulang pa rin,” he estimated.
(The Philippine Postal Corporation funds cannot support the repairs. In 2020, it had a net surplus of negative P240 million — a loss. In 2021, it got a positive net surplus of P106 million, but that was not enough.)
The fire hit the Manila Post Office building this morning, in a scale that reached general alarm at 5:54 a.m. It was declared under control by 7:22 a.m.
Images taken during the incident showed the blaze had destroyed various parts of the building.
One fire volunteer was reported injured as firefighters tried to manage the situation.
Despite the incident, Recto believes the building can be repaired, especially since this is not the first time that the Post Office has been damaged.
“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. This is not the first time it was destroyed. Firebombed by US and Japanese forces, it was reduced to rubble during the Battle of Manila,” he recalled.
“Even though short of cash, the newly-born Philippine Republic made sure that it would rise from the ashes of war because such would be proof of a new nation’s determination to rebuild. Because they believed then, as we must do now, that to let it physically disappear is to purge it from our people’s memory,” he said.