In the fight for cultural preservation and environmental protection of Palawan, civil society groups seem to have found an ally with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
Chairman Felipe M. De Leon of NCCA in a press conference, stressed the importance of preservation of local identity which is fundamental as a nation.
De Leon relates local identity in the Commission’s fight against the construction of DMCI Homes’ Torre de Manila, a 49-storey condominium tower which is under heavy criticism for defacing the view of the Rizal Monument in Luneta Park.
“Rizal is a symbol of nationhood. Kapag hindi ninyo ginalang si Rizal parang hindi n’yo na rin ginalang ang Filipino flag,” De Leon said.
He said that in Palawan it is very important to preserve the local culture in order to be recognized in the local and international level.
“Local excellence leads to national recognition. That’s why kung ano ang ng ipinagmalalaki natin as Filipinos, ganun din dapat ang pagpapahalaga n’yo as Palaweños at ang kalaban n’yan ay mining at palm oil plantations. Ang makikinabang d’yan ay only a few. In the long-run masisira ang livelihood n’yo,” De Leon said.
“We really have to fight these with all our might. Huwag tayong matakot. The more we bond together in fighting corporate greed the more we sustain development” he stressed.
Atty. Rose Beatrix Cruz-Angeles, legal consultant of NCCA emphasized a provision in the National Heritage Act (RA 10066) about cultural property.
It states that ‘all products of human creativity by which a people and a nation reveal their identity, including churches, mosques and other places of religious worship, schools and natural history specimens and sites, whether public or privately-owned, movable or immovable, and tangible or intangible’ are within the jurisdiction of the NCCA.
The Commission is now requiring local government units to submit inventory of all cultural property in their respective area as this is required under Article V, Section 14 of the Act.
Atty. Angeles said that NCCA has created a tribunal which has quasi-judicial function for the protection of heritage sites whether declared or undeclared.
“We question mining activities because they are affecting tangible cultural heritage,” Atty. Angeles said.
NCCA is in Palawan to invite the people to submit project proposals for various initiatives towards the promotion and preservation of Filipino culture particularly on research and documentation, database of cultural heritage resources, cultural sensitivity training, and documentation on indigenous dance among others.