By Bernadette D. Nicolas, November 23 2018; Business Mirror


Image Credit to Manila Bulletin

Malacañang assured on Thursday it will not allow a China-funded bridge project encroach into the buffer zone required by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) for the country’s baroque churches that may prompt delisting from the World Heritage list.

This, after the Unesco warned that San Agustin Church and three other churches around the Philippines may be deleted from the list due to the construction of the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge in Manila.

The other churches that are also at risk are San Agustin in Paoay, Ilocos Norte; Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur and Santo Tomas de Villanueva in Miag-ao, Iloilo.

The bridge will pass over the Pasig River and connect San Fernando Street in Binondo to Solana Street and Riverside Drive in Intramuros.

Asked if Palace authorities won’t allow the construction of the bridge to intrude into the buffer zone, Presidential Spokesman and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador S. Panelo said in a news briefing: “Oh, definitely, because that is a world heritage. That is part of our history.”

However, he also said that this does not mean that they will not push through with the bridge project, since there may be other ways to construct the bridge without it intruding in the buffer zone requirement.

“Not necessarily ‘not push through’ because you may remove the locations to maybe a hundred meters away. I don’t think that will be a problem,” he said. “As you said, it may encroach. But I was listening in the news story…that the contractor is saying that it will not. So we don’t know exactly whether or not it will, because if it will, then certainly it is right to object,” he added.

The buffer zone is deemed important and should be protected because any negative effect of a major construction project would threaten the outstanding value of a World Heritage property.

Senator Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon has already filed a Senate resolution on Monday to look into the issue in aid of a legislative inquiry.