THE CASE OF THE LOAY MUNICIPAL HALL

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THE CASE OF THE LOAY MUNICIPAL HALL

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cartoon editorialONE THING CERTAIN,  if people cannot follow the CDO (Cease and Desist Order) of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) to stop the “demolition” of the historic Loay Municipal Hall damaged by the earthquake in October 2013, they can go to court for relief.

This was what DMCI (construction/development firm)  precisely rushed to the Supreme Court for last year-  to contest the CDO of the NHCP since their Torre De Manila along Taft Avenue In Manila  was deemed to have “destroyed the iconic view of the Rizal Monument at the Luneta”.

It seems there is no such intention on the part of beleaguered Loay Mayor May Imboy who expressed “relief” upon receiving a faxed copy of the CDO on Friday. Though some jackhammer work continued yesterday, it would be good for the LGU to obey the CDO this time by Monday.

There are, however, some things to be fully clarified on the imbroglio. Were the separate  Loay SB resolutions for both “rehabilitation” and “demolition” of the town hall meant to cover the fact that indeed both  activities will be done on the structure?

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The Project engineer seems to claims as much that only one third will be “demolished” and the rest for “rehabilitation”.. Even the NHCP was earlier put to task by some Bohol  cultural/historical advocates for not knowing the thin line that divides what should be “rehabilitated” and “demolished” in three particular heritage churches in Loay, Loboc and Baclayon.

Certainly some demolition has to be done on parts to strengthen the whole. This paper does not pretend to be engineers to distinguish one from the other.

Be that is may, it seems a historical “marker” is alongside the hall that seems to suggest it is a historical structure. However, the fact that the “Concerned Citizens of Loay” are still invoking for its declaration as (ICP) Important Cultural Property by virtue of RA 10066 or the National Heritage Act of 2009 means its declaration is still in the future tense.

Moreover, the DPWH appears to have mandated for the project stoppage as early as October 2015 for bidding infirmities- why is work still on going 4 months after its order? The P32-M funding comes from the DPWH-BEA project managed by Capitol – did the program of works which was the basis for the approval and release of the funds inclusive of both “rehabilitation and demolition works”?

Should there be a review of the budget program of works, rebidding and declaration of the municipal hall as ICP before everyone can move forward? After all, the people of Loay themselves deserve to have a presentable, working municipal hall regardless of the brouhaha.

Moving forward since we are now technically 2 years and 4 months after the vicious earthquake of October 2013, the NCHP should immediately look at all damaged properties for rehabilitation in Bohol and in one stroke of the pen declare all those structures which are ICP as such.

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Then we can avoid cases like Loay Municipal Hall which can really be a “cultural tussle” but can be politicized in large measure being an election year.

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Let the stakeholders decide pronto and move forward. A town cannot be without a municipal hall for too long.

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