Heritage advocates and citizens in Taytay, province of Rizal, were racing against the time in 2020 to prevent the demolition of their old municipal building from making room for a new public hospital.
Taytay Advocates of Cultural Heritage (TACH) stated that the public was not informed about the construction of the 200-bed Rizal Provincial Hospital System-Taytay Annex on the site of the 60-year-old Barangay Dolores municipal hall.
Even though it no longer houses most municipal offices, the building remains a local monument, according to the group.
In 2013, former Mayor Janet Mercado began transforming the building into an “ancestral house” for workplaces, such as a one-stop shop for microentrepreneurs. The former town hall was also slated to become a public library and a museum.
However, the last municipal authority began demolishing the structure in the same year, 2020.
Does it have good intentions? Yes. Right timing? Given that we are currently experiencing a coronavirus pandemic that year?
So why do citizens oppose it?
Former Taytay PIO Mark Valdez stressed in an interview with Taytay Journal that no official declaration that such property is a cultural heritage had been made. However, NHCP Chairman Dr. Rene R. Escalante reiterated in a letter to Mayor George Ricardo R. Gacula II last November 20 that “the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009 (R.A. 10066) considers structures dating at least 100 years old as cultural heritage.”
The past admin never needed consultations with the public. The citizens’ requests for due process were refused. Dr. Rene R. Escalante’s 2020 letter notice did not deter the municipal government of Taytay Rizal from committing infractions. Without a permit or public information, the historic building is being dismantled and converted into a controversial hospital.
On December 10, 2020, International Human Rights Day, Dr. Jose Rizal and Inang Bayan statues were removed. The statue predates the previous Municipality and dates back to the 1950s.
NHCP says an early Hispanic grid plan connects the Plaza Libertad and Taytay Church.
In contrast to the Old Municipality, Plaza Libertad is not listed on the Registry of Cultural Property. The Taytay Church is listed in the PRECUP National Inventories as “876 / Simbahan ng Taytay / Marked Structure, NHCP / Tangible-Immovable.” In this regard, the Church is concerned.
Since Juan Sumulong Street connects Old Municipio Plaza Libertad and St. John the Baptist Parish Church, its members will be affected. This also harms religious, civil, and cultural values.
On their second anniversary of defending Taytay’s culture and heritage, they posted on Facebook, asking the public:
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