Lucena bishop earns ire of conservationists
LUCENA CITY—The public declaration of support of Lucena Diocese Bishop Emilio Marquez for the controversial road project of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Sariaya, Quezon province, has earned him the ire of heritage conservationists.
In different Facebook groups of heritage protection advocates, Marquez has been the subject of tirades, some of them personal and derogatory.
One of his critics alleged that the bishop was being fed with “incorrect” information about the road project that conservationists said would destroy or deface heritage sites and structures in the town.
On Oct. 9, Marquez declared support for the construction of loading and unloading bays in three strategic spots on Sariaya, saying these were necessary to address the perennial traffic problem along the town’s General Luna Street.
From the public Facebook page of “SOS: Save Our Sariaya Heritage,” one Onil Azneita posted on Oct. 12 that “Pamanlahi” (Dakilang Pamana ng Lahi Inc.), a heritage protection group, will file a motion for contempt against Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, including the regional and provincial heads of DPWH, for violating the cease-and-desist order issued against the road project by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
“Even if the bishop of Lucena has changed his stance and is now favoring the contractor for reasons we may only speculate about and may lead to our excommunication, we shall pursue the preservation of heritage in Sariaya,” said Azneita.
The Inquirer learned that Azneita was Lino Atienza, the head of Pamanlahi.
When sought for his comment to the floods of criticism raised by his declaration to support the project, Marquez said he expected the backlash. “I’m ready to meet and face them to defend my stand,” the bishop said in a phone interview on Tuesday.
The DPWH earlier planned to widen General Luna street but later revised the plan by constructing only three loading and unloading stations at the market area, middle of General Luna Street and in front of the town plaza.
The bishop also gave permission to DPWH to use a portion of the plaza, which is owned by the Church, for their project.
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