A NATIONAL Cultural Treasure (NCT) is at risk of “irreparable damage” due to a construction of three high-rise buildings within the area of Santa Ana Church, Manila.
The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Abandoned houses 11 fresco paintings, including the Camarin de la Virgen, which was declared a cultural treasure in 2008. The other fresco paintings are also at risk of being endangered, said the church in a statement.
The 11 frescoes are in danger of irreparable damage “due to the heavy pounding and pile driving of a major developer that is illegally constructing three high-rises of 36 stories,” said the church.
According to them, the 11 fresco paintings are the oldest oil paintings on wood in the Philippines.
The major developer was identified as Suntrust Properties Inc. (SPI). They announced the construction in November, and since then, Barangay 885-97 received complaints from residents for “incessant heavy pounding and frightening earth shaking night and day.”
On July 10, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila ordered SPI to discontinue any construction work until they obtain an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The construction company was able to obtain an ECC from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of DENR.
According to the church, SPI’s documents to obtain clearance “are in question as being authentic.”
They claimed that the Barangay documents were not signed by officials and neighbors, whose signatures appear in the documents.
“In addition, the three documents obtained from Manila City Hall (Zoning Clearance, City Council Resolution and Building Permit) based on these questionable documents have long expired,” the church said.
Other permits are also being called to question as they are allegedly based on false information.
SPI has not yet responded to the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development’s (DHSUD) request for answers and clarification.
“We strongly object to the construction given the threat mentioned above: to the neighborhood and to the long history of Santa Ana Church housing a National Cultural Treasure,” said the church.