DESPITE recent pronouncements by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) that it was stopping the controversial road-widening project in Sariaya, Quezon, heritage advocates are still worried over the plight of their town’s built heritage, given that the “DPWH is unpredictable.”
Danny de Luna, Quezon Province Heritage Council (QPHC) president and Sariaya Heritage Council (SHC) chair, says DWPH is continuing the road-widening despite the cease-and-desist order (CDO) issued by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) in April.
“The DPWH has already changed the term ‘road-widening’ to ‘loading-to-unloading bay’ way back last March 2015, and [it’s] still continuing its work despite the effectivity of the CDO,” he says.
“NCAA will not just declare the CDO as finished when there are still threats to Sariaya heritage,” De Luna adds.
In a letter to the NCCA, QPHC and SHC say DPWH and its contractor, LA Clamor Corp., were “blatantly disregarding and making a mockery” of the CDO by continuing the road project.
According to heritage group Dakilang Pamana ng Lahi, loading bays are going to be constructed at the vicinity of the church, town plaza and a number of heritage houses presumed to be important cultural properties under the heritage law.
“This further jeopardizes the situation considering they are potential violations of the National Heritage Law,” Pamana says in a statement.
Sariaya is home to a number of heritage structures such as the Rodriguez and Gala-Rodriguez houses; the Andres Luna de San Pedro-designed Natalio Enriquez mansion; the Spanish-era Church of Saint Francis of Assisi; and the ruins of the old church in Barangay Tumbaga.
Another notable heritage structure is the prewar Art Deco municipal hall building designed by architect Juan Arellano.
Last year, the old fence of the Sariaya Public Cemetery and the 63-year-old postwar fence of Lutucan Elementary School were destroyed by the DPWH project.