IT IS unfortunate that Ramon Villegas adds to the misinformation on Republic Act 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009 by implying that heritage structures are turned over to the state. (?What should be Noynoy?s art and culture agenda,? Inquirer, 8/23/10) That is completely false unless the owners decide to donate the structure to the state. Many declared heritage structures remain the properties of their respective private owners. The declaration simply recognizes the heritage value of their structure to the entire nation, but does not take away ownership from private citizens. The declaration also allows the state to release funds for the restoration of a heritage structure despite it being privately owned.
Second, the 50-year-old provision is a presumption of declaration and not a declaration. It simply means that before a structure is demolished, renovated or transferred, it must first be evaluated by the pertinent cultural agency to determine its historical, architectural or cultural value. With the results of the evaluation, a structure may be declared formally or the presumption of declaration removed through delisting to allow demolition, renovation or transfer.
The reason behind this is that government cultural agencies have not declared everything that needs to be declared. And we need this measure to ensure that those worth preserving are indeed preserved.
Also, to say that ?it should be older? disregards the fact that age is not the sole determinant of heritage value. The Sydney Opera House was only 34 years old when it was inscribed in the Unesco World Heritage List. Brasilia, which was planned and developed in 1956, was inscribed in 1987, only 31 years after. Saying that it should be older than 50 years means then that some works of Leandro Locsin, National Artist for Architecture, should not be protected because they are less than 50 years old or built in the 1970s.
We do hope that before fellow cultural workers make sweeping statements, they first understand the law. It?s unfortunate that people who were not present at most of the technical working groups give these faulty explanations, which add to the confusion about the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.
?IVAN ANTHONY HENARES,
Heritage Conservation Society