SAVED PUENTE GIBANGA from Destruction
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The City of Tayabas owns a numerous Spanish Colonial Stone Arched Bridges. The Spanish Colonial Bridges in Tayabas are bridges built during the Spanish-Colonial Era in Tayabas, Quezon. The City Government of Tayabas declared eleven bridges in the city as Historical bridges of Tayabas for protection purposes. These are the bridges of Alitao, Isabel II, Urbiztondo, Don Francisco de Asis, Bai, Despedidas, Ese, Princesa, Malagonlong, Lakawan and Mate. In 2011, Eleven (11) bridges in Tayabas was declared as National Cultural Treasure under the Historic Bridges of Tayabas. The declared National Cultural Treasure under the list are the bridges of Alitao, Isabel II, Don Francisco de Asis, Gibanga, Malagonlong, Lakawan, Mate, Ese, Despedida, Tumuloy and Princesa.
Malogonlong Bridge is one of the oldest and longest stone arched bridges found in province of Quezon. It is a 136 metres (446 ft) long bridge built between the years 1840 and 1850 under the direction of the "Ministro del Pueblo," Fray Antonio Mattheos, a Franciscan priest. It was the longest bridge ever made during the Spanish colonial era with approximately 100,000 adobe blocks used.
These century old colonial bridges were built during the Spanish colonial era between 1850-1870s. Eleven (11) bridges in Tayabas were declared as National Cultural Treasure (NCT) by the National Museum (NM) in 2011 as provided for in the Museum Declaration No 7-2011.
Sometime in February 2017, the DPWH, District 1 and 2 Office , under the supervision of Engr. Nestor Cleofas and Engr Salvador Salvana began their construction in Puente Gibanga and Puente Prinsesa. We were shocked when we saw that DPWH construction workers were chipping away layers of brick and adobe from the walls of both bridge with heavy equipment. Heavy equipment were also digging some parts of the bridge abutment – fortification footing of both bridges. Thus, compromising the inherent heritage character of both bridges. Last March 16, 2017 upon the ocular inspection of the sites by a representative from the National Museum and courtesy call by members of Oplan Sagip Tulay advocates, both District Offices expressed the word overlooked over what had happened. To overlook a DPWH Memorandum Order #138 series of 2014 and call it minor errors Is unprofessional under the Code of Conduct for Civil Engineers and code of ethics for government civil servants. Ignorance or overlooking any law or memorandum excuses no one..DPWH district engineers should have coordinated informed dialogued and sat down with the National Museum (NM), National Historical Commission of the Philippine (NHCP) and National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA) heritage stakeholders and advocates, and local government unit in the pre-planning stage. DPWH Memorandum 138 series of 2014 provides that when any government edifice or structures are involved in any government construction projects and possessed any heritage character, to address both the issue of safety and heritage character of the structure which needs to be preserved, a pre planning dialogue shall be held between DPWH , NM, NHCP and NCCA Heritage stakeholders and local government unit. After this pre planning dialogue., the memorandum requires for a written approval or authorization or go signal for DPWH to proceed with the construction. In the case of Puente Gibanga located between the boundaries of Tayabas City and Puente Prinsesa located between the boundaries of Tayabas City and Lucban, there was no any pre planning dialogue or consultation called or held. There was no any written authorization or approval from NM, NHCP, and NCCA in order for DPWH to proceed with the construction.
We strongly opposes these lapses or “minor errors” by Engr Nestor Cleofas and Salvador Salvana. We wish to express that we are not against progress and development. We are just saddened by the fact that the national cultural treasure character of our historic bridges are being disregarded by an agency of the government which are the DPWH District Engineering Office 1 and 2 mandated by RA 10066 to conserve, protect and preserve. We are one with the National Government in its intention to construct infrastructures like bridges and roads for the benefit of the common good and public safety, but we want to reiterate our desire to preserve our national cultural treasure for public tourism and for the common good of the present and future generation..
In this connection, we respectfully request for the temporary suspension or stoppage of the ongoing construction activities by DPWH Quezon District 1 and District 2, until further notice or until a viable project designed is revised, presented and approved by concerned government agencies like the National Museum, National Historical Commission of the Philippines and the National Commission for Culture and Arts.
President Rodrigo Duterte, We, residents of Tayabas City, members of Oplan Sagip Tulay and heritage advocates of Quezon Province are hoping that this Open Letter would merit your attention and immediate action. We hope you will not allow the destruction of our National Cultural Treasures, namely, the Puente Gibanga and Puente Prinsesa. These bridges symbolize the forced labor of sweat and blood of our Tayabas ancestors. The warm red blood of men, women and children ages 14 years and above were spilled upon these bridges upon the oppressive orders of the Colonial masters of those bygone times. Anytime now, Its destruction and entombment in steel rods and ready mix concrete by DPWH will mean the desecration of the provisions of the 1987 constitution and RA10066, the utter disregard of the National Museum Declaration of 2011 and violation of the COA General Provisions of 2017 which requires any government agencies the same dialogue and consultation with Concerned agencies prior to any construction activity especially when government structures have that heritage or historical character.
Residents of Tayabas City
Quezon Province Heritage Advocates
Oplan Sagip Tulay
CITY GOVERNMENT OF TAYABAS
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