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Pulpit panels issue reaches Congress as solon calls for return

Pulpit panels issue reaches Congress as solon calls for return

Cebu Congressman Edsel Galeos has filed a bill at the House of Representatives urging the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts and the National Museum of the Philippines to return to Boljoon town four pulpit panels that were donated to the museum.

Galeos is representative of Cebu’s Second District where Boljoon is situated.

His bill came after the municipality asked NMP to open an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the panels finding their way to the museum many years after they were reportedly stolen from the church in Boljoon in the 1980s.

In the bill, Galeos cited Republic Act 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, which states that one of the objectives of the law is to “protect, preserve, conserve, and promote the nation’s cultural heritage, its property and histories, and the ethnicity of local communities.”

“Whereas, the Municipality of Boljoon and the Boljoanons consider the church as part of its history, culture, and symbol of its enduring devotion as members of the Catholic Church. The Municipal Council has previously passed Ordinance No. 09-2022 which declared the Archdiocesan Shrine of Patrocinio de Maria Santissima Church/Rectory/Belfry as one of the Heritage Properties of Boljoon,” the bill reads.

The panels trace original provenance from the pulpit of the Patrocinio de Maria Santissima Parish Church.

Private collectors who NMP said acquired the panels through legitimate means donated the panels to the museum in February 2024.

In a statement on February 19, 2024, the museum said it will “continue to pursue preventive conservation measures necessary to prepare them (panels) for public display in due course.”

But Galeos said in his bill:

“The National Museum of the Philippines stated that it is open to ‘sharing’ the four panels with the people of Cebu. However, these artifacts have a religious context and meaning in the Catholic Church. The panels serve as tools for evangelization, and are not simply artistic ornaments for public appreciation.”

“Boljoanons are demanding for accountability. The panels, which are part of the municipality’s culture and history, were unlawfully stolen from the Boljoon Church. It must there be restored where it rightfully belongs,” his bill reads further.

Galeos said his bill supports the calls of the town leadership, provincial leadership, and even the Cebu Archdiocese for the panels to be returned to Cebu.

Boljoon Mayor Joie Genesse Derama and other town officials went to Manila to hand over his letter and Council resolution on the matter personally to the museum. GMA Regional TV