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Congress okays conservation of ‘Gabaldon’ school buildings

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The House of Representatives passed House Bill 5577 which seeks to conserve, rehabilitate and repair Gabaldon school houses and other heritage school buildings nationwide, as a way of giving value to their historical significance and usage.

Congressman Celso Lobregat, one of the authors of the bill said, the Gabaldon school buildings are those designed by American Architect William Parsons and funded through Act No. 1801 which was authored by Isauro Gabaldon, a former governor of Nueva Ecija and member of the Philippine Assembly from 1907 to 1911.

Lobregat said that to meet the need for public school buildings, the Asamblea Filipina (Philippine Assembly) passed one of its first laws, Act No.1801.

He said the law came to be known as the “Gabaldon Act of 1907” which was taken from the surname of its principal advocate. All the school buildings built in the next two decades during the American period were called “Gabaldon School Houses”.

House Bill 5577 or the proposed “Gabaldon School Buildings Conservation Act” aims to preserve the Gabaldon school buildings’ historical significance and address the ever-growing need for educational facilities. This will be done through the repair and rehabilitation of Gabaldon school buildings and other heritage school buildings nationwide.

The bill declares it as the policy of the State to conserve and promote the country’s historical and cultural heritage and resources. Towards this end, it shall strengthen its efforts and pursue a more proactive role in the conservation and restoration of built heritage, such as the Gabaldon school buildings, to preserve their architectural, historical, and social significance.

The bill refers to conservation as “all processes and measures of maintaining the cultural significance of Gabaldon school buildings, including preservation, restoration, reconstruction, protection, adaptation or any combination thereof.”

It mandates the Department of Education (DepED), in consultation with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and the NationalMuseum (NM) to implement a program for the identification and conservation of all Gabaldon school buildings nationwide.

Local government units (LGUs) that have Gabaldon school buildings under their jurisdiction shall likewise adopt measures for their protection and conservation and shall provide the DepED with the necessary assistance in the implementation of any conservation project.

Moreover, any modification, alteration, destruction, demolition, or relocation of Gabaldon school buildings shall be strictly prohibited.

Any person who shall abet or cause the unauthorized modification, alteration, destruction, demolition, or relocation of the Gabaldon school building shall be fined with an amount not less than P200,000 or be imprisoned for a term of not less than 10 years, or both, upon the discretion of the court. The violator shall likewise pay for the conservation of the structure.

If any of the violation is committed by a juridical person, its license to operate shall be revoked, and its president, manager, representative, director, agent or employee shall also be liable for the penalties prescribed under the Act.

The Secretary of Education shall immediately include in the DepEd’s program the implementation of the Act.

Within 90 days from the approval of the Act, the DepED, in consultation with the NCCA, the NHCP, and the NM, shall formulate the rules and regulations implementing the provisions of the Act.(Dexter Yap/PR)




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