Parish priest faces raps over ‘illegal’ renovation of heritage sitePosted on
ILOILO CITY — The parish priest of the St. Anne Parish in Molo district here will be facing charges for instituting the renovation of a cultural heritage site without coordination from concerned government agencies.
The Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP or City Council) on Tuesday passed a resolution directing the City Legal Office (CLO) “to institute appropriate legal actions” against parochial administrator Reverend Monsignor Maurillo Silva for violation of Republic Act 10066 otherwise known as the National Heritage Act and section 301 of Presidential Decree 1096 or the National Building Act.
“We are asking the City Legal and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines to file appropriate cases, probably a criminal case,” said Councilor Candice Magdalane A. Tupas, chair of the SP committee on tourism, culture and historical affairs who led the conduct of the inquiry in aid of legislation regarding the renovation of the Convento de Molo of the St. Anne Parish.
The Convento de Molo forms part of the Molo Church that was declared as “Cultural Heritage Tourism Zone” by virtue of Republic Act 10555.
Section 2 of the law provides that the zone shall be “accorded priority development by the Department of Tourism and shall be subject to the rules and regulations governing the development of tourism zones”.
In her report, Tupas said while the parish submitted an application for clearance from the Iloilo City Cultural Heritage Conservation Council (ICCHCC), the latter was unable to act on the request due to the former’s failure to submit a development plan.
Meanwhile, Section 15 of RA 10066 mandates that all intervention works and measures on conservation of national historical landmarks shall be undertaken through the supervision of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).
The NHCP on June 5, 2018 issued a cease and desist against all activities affecting the old convent and for Silva to submit a master development plan.
Tupas said the penal provision of RA10066 provides a penalty of PHP200,000 or imprisonment for any violation of the law.
The City Engineer’s Office also released a notice of violation and work stoppage order on July 19 due to the failure of the parish to secure a building permit for the renovation.
The councilor revealed that in the two committee hearings, Silva was unable to attend and had not sent a representative on his behalf.
“We gave letters, the office also phoned him on both committee hearings; he wasn’t able to attend. There was no response, no correspondence. I can only say if he made a written correspondence, but he didn’t,” Tupas said.
In addition to the filing of charges, Tupas also proposed that the city government amend its heritage ordinance and expand its area of coverage beyond the Iloilo Central Business District and provide penal provision to prevent future or similar acts.
Tupas said prior to the restoration of a cultural heritage site, they first have to be registered with the NHCP and proper coordination has to be done with the ICCHCC for a clearance. (PNA)