Historical sites: DPWH vows close coordination with NCCA

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio Singson issued Department Order (DO) No. 138 instructing all the offices of the department to closely coordinate with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) to protect historical sites, Malacañang said in a statement on Monday, December 22.

"All projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) that may affect historical sites or structures shall only be approved when studies are done in coordination with the NCCA," Malacañang said.

The DPWH faced criticisms earlier this year for having bulldozed thousands of trees and disregarded a historical site in planning and implementing its road projects.

Thousands of trees have already been cut in the provinces of Pangasinan, Laguna, Sorsogon, Baguio, and Cebu to meet the requirement for national primary roads to have at least 4 lanes or at least 15 meters in width.

Singson back then responded by reminding DPWH offices to strictly follow a 1991 department order to coordinate closely with historical preservation and cultural agencies in planning infrastructure projects.

The new DPWH order is a reiteration of Republic Act 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, which instructs the DPWH to work with NCCA "in the implementation of programs or projects, specifically major infrastructure projects that would have an impact on heritage structures."

Singson said the order also addresses calls to stop ongoing public works project that could affect historical sites. 

“To ensure proper protection of historical sites and prevent delays and revision of vital projects during construction, all DPWH offices are directed to closely coordinate with NCCA during the conduct of feasibility studies for the design and improvement of projects,” Singson said.

“The relics of the past are national treasures which must be preserved, restored and enhanced for the benefit of future generations,” he added. – Rappler.com