Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The hound that is DPWH

Hounds, as known, are very loyal to their masters and in this case, the hound is the Department of Public Works and Highways and its true master is nothing more than wealth and the moneyed people. 

Why else would they insist on disobeying cease-and-desist orders, or reject laws, or even turn a deaf ear to the various talks between the department, the NCCA, and the people of Sariaya when they can't even raise a single finger against the Manila Yacht Club, who appropriates for themselves public land for their parking lot and in the process hinders the development projects planned for the entirety of Roxas Boulevard? 

It is just gross injustice, a revelation in fact, or rather just proof that, as always, in this country money trumps law and the public good.

Sariaya, Quezon as viewed from the bell tower of the historic St. Francis of Assisi Parish Church. Shown here is the municipal hall and the Rizal Plaza
As Early as March of this year, talks have been finalized between the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and the concerned people of Sariaya, Quezon regarding a certain road widening project which will ultimately damage/affect several structures and properties of great cultural importance, such as the San Francisco de Assisi Church Complex (built 1784), the Sariaya Municipal Hall (built 1931, designed by Arch. Juan M. Arellano, the same man behind the design of many important structures such as the Metropolitan Theater and the Manila Central Post Office), the Rizal Monument and Plaza (Inaugurated December 30, 1924), and the Natalio Enriquez Ancestral House (1931, designed by Andres Luna de San Pedro) 

The decision? No road widening project would be done and only certain loading and unloading bays would be constructed. Despite all the agreements and cease-and-desist orders from the NCCA, along with the construction of alternative road projects, such as the 7.2-km Sariaya bypass road and the 24.7-km Quezon-Batangas ecotourism road, the DPWH still stubbornly insists on pushing through with the road widening projects, despite violating Republic Act 10066

A Lawless State

It is no wonder that people still see laws as nothing more as mere guidelines and suggestions. How could this nation obey the laws when the people within the government are violating them? What kind of government expects its citizens to obey laws that they themselves trample upon? It was not the first time that DPWH has damaged or even completely destroyed heritage structures.

In 2004, DPWH "insisted on constructing a highway over a series of exceptional, well preserved stone bridges along the provincial road originally built during the Spanish colonial period. They consulted the community before finalizing the highway design, but ignored all suggestions to save the bridges." 

In 2005, the DPWH "was bent on demolishing a row of heritage houses to widen the highway that cuts through the town center and passes perilously close to historic Baclayon Church."

In 2007, DPWH raised roads around the Lazi Church (Built in 1857) in Siquijor which only endangered the whole structure.

And in 2014, DPWH committed a whole bunch of blunders, from attempting to demolish a 200-year old brick bridge in Nueva Vizcaya to cutting down a century old tree without a permit nor proper coordination with the local government, the NCCA, and other related groups. Besides this, certain houses in Quiapo which are over a century old were threatened by plans of road widening.

It's a whole history of DPWH being a lowly hound that eats everything in its path, showing its brute power, all brawn and no brains.

On the other hand, miles away from Sariaya, Manila faces another problem. This time around it is the Department of Public Works and Highways which are now so powerless against the Manila Yacht Club. In a certain post of Mr. Carlos Celdran on his public account, DPWH's development project in Roxas Boulevard has been affected by the Manila Yacht Club, causing in the halt of construction of bike lanes and other developments in the famous beach front road, by insisting that the project would affect the club's "historic" parking lot. And thus, DPWH shows the only thing that could stop it; not laws, nor petitions, nor even cease-and-desist orders from the government... it is money and rich individuals that hold sway over DPWH.



REPUBLIC ACT NO. 10066, Section 2.

"In the pursuit of cultural preservation as a strategy for maintaining Filipino identity, this Act shall pursue the following objectives:

(a)Protect, preserve, conserve and promote the nation's cultural heritage, its property and histories, and the ethnicity of local communities;

(b)Establish and strengthen cultural institutions; and

(c)Protect cultural workers and ensure their professional development and well-being.

The State shall likewise endeavor to create a balanced atmosphere where the historic past coexists in harmony with modern society. It shall approach the problem of conservation in an integrated and holistic manner, cutting across all relevant disciplines and technologies. The State shall further administer the heritage resources in a spirit of stewardship for the inspiration and benefit of the present and future generations."

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