Iloilo City mayor faces rap over market demolition

Iloilo City mayor faces rap over market demolition

Iloilo City mayor faces rap over market demolition


ILOILO CITY — A complaint related to the demolition of the historic Iloilo City public market, popularly known as Central Market, and its art deco facade was filed against Mayor Jerry Treñas on Thursday.

Jose Nereo Lujan, chief information officer of the Iloilo provincial government, through a complaint, asked the Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas to hold Treñas liable for grave misconduct, grave abuse of authority, conduct unbecoming and conduct prejudicial to the public interest.


Lujan’s complaint came more than a month after Treñas sued him for cyberlibel for allegedly maligning the mayor and his family about the legality of demolishing the Central Market and other issues.


Sought for comment, Treñas maintained that the demolition of the historic structures was legal and implemented in accordance with Republic Act No. 11966, or the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Act.

“I cannot give a [detailed] statement until I see the complaint. I have always done everything legally in accordance with the PPP law,” he said.

The Central Market was demolished in February under a PPP between the city government and a major property developer.

In his complaint, Lujan said the market’s art deco facade was a protected heritage structure under National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Resolution No. 3 Series of 2014.

The Central Market, he said, is classified as an “important cultural property” and is among the 32 buildings in Iloilo City recognized for their historical value, being over 50 years old.

The Iloilo City Public Market was opened to the public on Jan. 15, 1912, while the art deco facade was put up in 1938.


Heritage zone

The market was a popular destination for both residents and tourists with its array of stalls offering not only fresh produce but also native products, “pasalubong” (gifts), traditional medicine, local coffee, condiments, baked goods, and affordable meals.

The NHCP had designated the Central Market as a Cultural Tourism Heritage Zone in 2013 and a Historic Center in 2014.

Under Section 5 of RA 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, the Central Market’s facade is presumed to be an important cultural property, due to its existence of more than 50 years.

But the same provision allows the city government, as property owner, to file a petition to remove such presumption, and Section 8 of the same law also provides for the delisting process, which will ultimately allow for its demolition.

A letter from then NHCP Chair Rene Escalante, dated Feb. 20, 2023, showed that the commission was amenable to the development plans for the Central Market.

READ: DILG lifts ban on demolition, eviction of informal settlers

The letter, however, did not indicate the demolition of its facade or whether the commission approved it.

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Different groups, as early as 2022, had sought to stop the planned demolition of the Central Market, citing concerns over alternative preservation methods.  —ARNOLD ALMACEN/ILOILO CITY MAYOR’S OFFICE

TAGS: demolition, Iloilo, Jerry Treñas

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