Speaker Martin Romualdez on Thursday vowed budgetary support for the restoration and structural strengthening of heritage sites in the Ilocos Region following Wednesday's magnitude 7 earthquake.
Romualdez made the commitment after Senator Imee Marcos, during a briefing with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Bangued, Abra, requested him to allocate sufficient funding to assess the integrity of centuries-old infrastructures such as historical churches.
"We shall also join the good senator from Ilocos Norte on her call to support the budgetary requirements for the restoration of the heritage cultural sites, as well of course the various infrastructures on the situation report and the declaration as urgent," Romualdez said.
"We will all do so in coordination with our good representatives from the respective districts who will be, I'm sure, working with their respective mayors headed by our [League of Municipalities of the Philippines] mayor, my very good friend, [La Paz, Abra] Mayor JV Bernos," he added.
"So we are one and we are in unity in this call to support this policies that are being outlined."
At the early part of the briefing, Senator Marcos mentioned their personal inspection in Ilocos Sur where the damage to heritage churches due to the earthquake was described as "overwhelming."
"We inspected Bantay [Bell Tower], the Vigan Cathedral, as well as the Paunayan Church and they are or should be condemned shortly," she said.
Citing a bill that she filed for the restoration of the Paoay Church, Senator Marcos said these heritage churches need technical assessment such as rebound hammer test, ultrasonic pulse velocity test, electromagnetic cover meter test, Windsor Probe test, ultrasonic pulse velocity test, among others.
"You have to contract specialists for these but clearly for heritage churches, this is necessary," she said.
Senator Marcos also mentioned the need for infrastructures in Regions 1, 2 and the Cordillera Administrative Region that are 50 years old or older to be replaced.
"I'd also like to pitch here that much of the infrastructures really in Region 1, CAR and Region 2 [are] over 50 years old which by international standards [are] ancient and should be replaced," she added.
President Marcos, accompanied by several of his Cabinet officials, went to Abra on Thursday morning to personally assess the damage caused by the magnitude 7 earthquake, to strongest to occur in the Philippines in recent years.
Upon his arrival, the President held a situation briefing with various government officials and the local chief executives. —KBK, GMA News