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NCCA to form task force for Manila Central Post Office restoration

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) is set to create an inter-agency task force for the restoration of the fire-hit Manila Central Post Office (MCPO), an official said Thursday.

Dubbed the Inter-Agency Task Force on Cultural Heritage, NCCA Executive Director Oscar Casaysay said the formation of the specialized task force was discussed by the agency’s Board of Commissioners on Wednesday.

The task force will be chaired by NCCA chairperson and National Archive Director Victorino Mapa Manalo, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, the National Museum, and the postmaster general of the Philippine Postal Corporation.

Manila’s first postal office was gutted by a massive 30-hour fire that broke out in the building’s basement on Sunday, May 21.

The fire reached the first alarm at 11:41 p.m. and escalated to general alarm, or its highest fire alarm level, at 5:54 a.m. on Monday. It was declared under control at 7:22 a.m. and fired out on Tuesday at 6:33 a.m.

The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) said 18 individuals, mostly firefighters, were hurt in the incident while the estimated cost of damage was around P300 million.

For its restoration, Casaysay said the NCCA is still waiting for the comprehensive assessment of the BFP for its structural integrity.

He also said its restoration may last for up to five years, with estimated costs reaching more than P1 billion.

“Maraming usapin. Di pa namin napag-usapan kung ano ang plano ng Philippine Post. Kailangan maiconsider 'yun sa pag-uusap ng inter-agency task force,” he added.

(They have yet to discuss the plans of the Philippine Post for the restoration. They need to consider that during the meeting of the inter-agency task force.)

Casaysay further said the NCCA is considering reviewing the Philippine Heritage Charter’s guidelines on disaster risk reduction and management to conserve the country’s cultural and heritage spaces.

“May mga policies tayo. Kaya lang tiningnan namin, ‘di comprehensive ’yung sinasabi ko na disaster risk reduction and management plan. Kailangan ikonsidera na rin natin doon sa charter para ‘yung guidelines ay maisaayos na natin sa lahat ng cultural heritage and spaces,” he added.

(We have policies but they are not comprehensive. We need to consider the disaster risk reduction and management plan in the charter to adjust the guidelines and be implemented in all cultural heritage and spaces.) — RSJ, GMA Integrated News