Gov’t should help restore historic churches damaged by quakes | Inquirer Opinion
LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Gov’t should help restore historic churches damaged by quakes

/ 04:10 AM November 14, 2022

Some heritage structures and churches were damaged when Northern Luzon was hit by a strong earthquake recently. We note that the national government through the National Commission for Culture and the Arts identifies majority of these churches as national cultural treasures because of their historical and cultural significance to us Filipinos. These churches are living reminders of our religious culture as Filipinos based from the orders of Franciscans, Jesuits, Dominicans, and Augustinian Recollects and a testimony of the colonial past of the Christianity in the country.

Republic Act No. 10066 known as the National Cultural Heritage Act protects these churches from demolition as expressed in the state policy to preserve them as cultural properties. This echoes, too, the constitutional provision that the state has the responsibility in the protection of the country’s artistic and historical wealth that constitutes national cultural treasure (Article XIV, Section 16, Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture and Sports). This is further complemented by RA 9470, National Archives of the Philippines Act of 2007, which states that “it is the policy of the State to conserve, promote and popularize the nation’s historical and cultural heritage resources. The State shall pursue, conserve and promote the Filipino cultural heritage and resources including the documentary records of Filipino culture, history and governance” (Article I, Section 2).

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Is there anything wrong if the national government extends financial aid for the restoration of these churches which are in the first place officially recognized by the same government as national cultural treasures?

Invoking Article II, Section 6 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution as a reason for the national government not to extend financial aid to these churches is, in my opinion, not in order. The inviolability of the separation between the church and state refers to not having a state religion. Simply put, the state does not establish a state religion nor espouse one religion over the others.

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Yes, charity begins at home. The national government should extend financial aid to our own local churches that were damaged or destroyed by earthquakes and have historical and intrinsic values.

REGINALD B. TAMAYO,

Marikina City

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TAGS: churches, earthquakes, restoration
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