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Regulatory Strategies for Heritage

Last November 9, 2013, Mark Evidente spoke at the 2nd Heritage Conservation Summit at Luxent Hotel in Quezon City, on the topic of Regulatory Strategies for Heritage.

He began from the idea that policy interventions fall into three general strategies - command and control, information, and market or economic approaches. Command and control generally works in terms of laws and regulations imposing a prohibition and a penalty, but is often difficult to enforce without a large bureaucracy. Information works in terms of gathering large amounts of information, then making it available to the public, on the premise that people make smarter choices in the face of all the data. However, it has its limits when the data runs against a person's values or ideology. Market tools, on the other hand, work on the premise that many people make economic decisions based on how much they value certain things, and financial incentives or disincentives help support decisions toward the intended goal. Good policy interventions often involve all three different strategies in combination, and we proposed this as a strategy for heritage.

The Philippine cultural heritage law (Republic Act No. 10066), in terms of built heritage, provides for two strategies: (1) command and control, by regulating the alteration of structures over 50 years old without approval from the national cultural agencies, and (2) information, by empowering the cultural agencies to do more in terms of communicating to the public the value of heritage. We focused on market tools, and specifically at the local government level. We explored the possibility of using "transfer development rights" (TDR) or "air rights" in conjunction with height and zoning regulations as a way to subsidize heritage preservation. A development right or air right is that held by a person who may own a two storey structure in a zone that allows for up to five storeys, for instance. That person thus holds a right to the three additional storeys that he or she could build on top of his existing structure. He or she could essentially choose to sell the rights to another person who may have already maximized his five storeys, so the latter person could now increase his structure to eight stories (the "transfer" part of TDR). The latter person can do so because, having bought the development rights from the former, the total density of that zone remains the same, thus not creating a problem of overcrowding, excessive waste or traffic.

Since most heritage structures are only two or three storeys tall, they may have development rights that could be traded, and the proceeds of the trade can be used as a trust fund to maintain the structure. All that would be needed is a framework from the local government to make TDR possible, and the willingness to properly enforce zoning regulations.

Other speakers at the event were Ivan Henares and Architect Jojo Mata on adaptive reuse, Ana Dizon on rental housing, Eric Zerrudo on the rise in values in Vigan from heritage preservation, Fr. Milan Torralba on the rehabilitation of Bohol and Cebu's heritage structures after the October 15, 2013 earthquake, Erik Akpedonu on development pressures on heritage, Architect Manuel Tingzon on the revitalization of the Iloilo business district, Architect Dominic Galicia on the adaptive reuse of the former Department of Tourism building into the Museum of Natural History, and Eric Manuel on urban land development.

*Photo from Mark Evidente


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