Lawyer hits gov’t for neglect of heritage sites

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Eric Zerrudo, director of the UST Graduate School Center for Conservation of Cultural Property and Environment in the Tropics, speaks at a forum at the De La Salle University. Photo by Maria Charisse Ann G. Refuerzo

MORE buildings don’t mean more development.

A lawyer has criticized the government for its failure to enforce laws on heritage conservation.

Trixie Angeles, legal counsel of the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA), said the government had failed to execute laws to prevent private companies from building new structures near heritage sites.

“A lot of these laws were totally ignored because there was a mindset to build more condominiums, to build more buildings, under the mistaken belief that more buildings would mean more development,” Angeles said in a forum at the Henry Sy Hall in De La Salle University.

“It’s not environmentally sound because you’re bringing in more people in a city that’s already 12-million strong. It puts a strain on resources, water, sanitation, traffic and pollution,” she added.

Angeles cited Torre De Manila, the condominium project of property developer DMCI Homes that has become an eyesore behind the Rizal Monument in Manila.

Angeles said government officials “do not see the common public good that is inherent in conservation.”

Jose Victor Torres, who teaches history in La Salle, said historical preservation was necessary to develop a national identity.

“History and culture will always be part of our lives by making them realize that history is more of an identity, and establish ourselves to the world as Filipinos,” Torres said.

Eric Zerrudo, director of the UST Graduate School Center for Conservation of Cultural Property and Environment in the Tropics, said development won’t be possible without heritage.

“It should be heritage-driven development. That is the formula that we feel for us to be so relevant in societal development, in human development,” he said. “We have to prove ourselves that without heritage there is no development.”

The forum, titled “Heritage Manila, Heritage Cities Forum Series,” was held from Feb. 8 to 9.

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