MANILA - The Banaue rice terraces stands to lose its listing as a World Heritage Site if the construction of a parking building would threaten its structural integrity, an official of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) said yesterday.
Trixie Cruz-Angeles, counsel for the NCCA, said the 2,000-year-old Banaue rice terraces was inscribed in the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage List in 1995.
On Aug. 14, the NCCA received a copy of a petition opposing the construction of the P55-million parking facility near the rice terraces. The cultural agency has yet to visit Banaue to see for themselves the area where the car park will be built.
“We won’t issue a cease and desist order unless we have personal knowledge or credible report,” Angeles said, adding the NCCA is required to report to the World Heritage Fund regarding the matter.
She said UNESCO would not intervene on the issue of the construction of a parking lot as it respects the sovereignty of nations.
But as part of the convention, UNESCO can classify the rice terraces as an endangered site.
“Once it is categorized as endangered, UNESCO will impose restrictions. If we don’t comply, the rice terraces may be removed from the list of the World Heritage Sites.”
Angeles said that if they find out during inspection that the parking facility would endanger the rice terraces and local officials fail to address this concern, the terraces could be removed from the list.
She said if local officials won’t comply with their recommendations, the NCCA itself would ask UNESCO to include the rice terraces in the endangered list.
“Once delisted as a World Heritage Site, the terraces will lose its universal value, protection and will no longer be considered as a treasure of humanity,” she said.
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