Budget for heritage sites restoration in 2021 stricken out in favor of COVID-19 crisis response

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 22 2020 01:09 PM

A portion of what's left inside the Apacible Museum after the eruption of Taal Volcano on Jan. 12, 2020 that prompted the National Historical Commission of the Philippines to "rescue" some historical pieces. Photo taken on January 21, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) on Wednesday said its funding for the restoration of heritage sites was removed from the 2021 budget as the government seeks to allocate more funds for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.

After the government reallocated the NHCP's P100 million fund for COVID-19-related projects, the agency's P300-million capital outlay for 2021 was also removed from the budget, NHCP Deputy Executive Director for Programs and Projects Alvin Alcid told senators.

"We wrote to the Department of Budget and Management for an appeal para ibalik 'yung budget para sa capital outlay, specifically for restoration of heritage structures," Alcid told the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.

"Kung mawawala po 'yan, ang next step namin ay to reach out to local government units baka sila ay mayroon ding maibibigay," he said.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian backed the NHCP's plea to fund the restoration of heritage sites in the Philippines, saying the government needs to "maintain it and preserve it for the next generation."

"If we don't preserve it, we might lose that heritage site or at least a substantial portion of that site," Gatchalian said.

While the funding issue has yet to be settled, the NHCP said it would provide technical assistance by teaching local government personnel on how to "maintain" and delay the "deterioration" of the heritage sites.