One of our principals, Mark Richard Evidente, presented a paper on Republic Act No. 10066, the Heritage Conservation Act, at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
The conference entitled "Cultural Heritage Law and the Built Environment: Preservation and Development in Asia's Historic Cities" brought established academics in the field of heritage from institutions in Switzerland, Japan, China, Sweden, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Mr. Evidente was the sole representative from the Philippines. The Conference was hosted by NUS' Centre for Asian Legal Studies.
His paper focused on the challenges of implementing the Heritage Law, given the lack of jurisprudence to guide government in its implementation. He focused on three specific issues:
The peculiar institutional structure of cultural agencies creates problems of jurisdiction and accountability, particularly between the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the National Museum, and the National Historical Commission.
While the law mandates a broad policy for the protection of built heritage, that protection seems only to cover sites that have been explicitly declared as such by cultural agencies. However, when sites have clear historical or cultural value, yet have not been declared as heritage, legal protection appears weak or non-existent.
There is a constitutional mandate for local autonomy, and a local government code enshrines the responsibility of cities and municipalities to adopt development and land use plans, as well as issue the necessary ordinances and permits to implement these plans. Local governments largely ignore the heritage law, often in the name of autonomy and generating local investment and revenue as structures are torn down for commercial development.
Mr. Evidente also serves as Secretary and Counsel to the Philippine Heritage Conservation Society.
* Top photo by Mark Richard Evidente,
middle and bottom photos from the Centre for Asian Legal Studies.