January 29, 2023

The government is ready to provide assistance for the repair of heritage structures, including churches that were damaged by the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that jolted Northern Luzon last month.

National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Chairperson Rene Escalante, who visited areas affected by the earthquake this week, said some of the edifices are located in the provinces of Abra, Ilocos Sur, and Ilocos Norte.

He said the national government will only concentrate on “big ticket restoration works”.

Among the structures they are looking at in Ilocos Sur are the Vigan Cathedral, the Bantay Church and its iconic bell tower, and parish churches in the towns of San Esteban, Candon, and Santa Maria.

“These will be submitted as the priority projects of the national government,” said Escalante in a report by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) website.

At the same time, Escalante said they are finalizing the list of structures that the government will restore.

He added they are also looking to ask for assistance from international agencies to augment the financial aid to be given by the government.

Currently, the NCCA head reported the structures are undergoing detailed engineering studies to further assess the damage and to know the extent of restoration needed. “We are behind your desire to restore these heritage structures… let us rebuild better,” Escalante said. – PNA