Conservationists asked for list of old Manila structures
The city building officer of Manila has made a counter-appeal to heritage conservationists: Provide the local government with a list of the city’s historical structures.
City building officer Melvin Balagot Monday assured heritage conservationists that the demolition of heritage buildings has been suspended, following their letter addressed to Mayor Alfredo Lim in which they asked him not to tear down the old Government Service Insurance System building near city hall and several houses in Binondo dating back to the Spanish era.
But at the same time, he also appealed for a “listing of structures” that could be considered heritage buildings so that they could refer to it in the future. He said they had asked the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) for such a list but to no avail.
Regarding the Binondo houses which were on private property, he said: “At first, we didn’t know what buildings they were referring to. There were no markers there to declare they were historic.”
He admitted, however, that he had issued renovation permits for the houses although the projects have been put on hold after he received the complaint from heritage groups. He said his office was currently waiting for word from the NHCP.
“Perhaps they should also coordinate with the private house owners so that they would also know that the building is historic,” he suggested.
Balagot also admitted that since last month, there have been plans to demolish the GSIS building due to complaints about falling debris.
“But we have orders that prior to implementation of the demolition, we should coordinate with the NHCP,” he said, adding that demolition of the structure has been put on hold as the city government waits for a green light from the agency.
In a May 8 letter to Lim, the Heritage Conservation Society (HCS) said the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009 (Republic Act No. 10066) states that the modification or demolition of properties aged 50 years old and above needs the consent of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
Located on Arroceros Street, the old GSIS building was designed by architect Federico Ilustre and constructed between 1952 and 54.
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