(By Rep. Edcel C. Lagman on 17 August 2022 before the Committee on Basic Education)
I seldom file a non-controversial bill. House Bill No. 1994 or the proposed “Cultural Property Sightline Act” is an exception for not being contentious.
No fireworks put the bill ablaze. No attacks and innuendoes besiege the measure. It does not even have any appropriation.
However, this bill is of utmost importance as it seeks to protect and promote our cultural heritage properties, particularly the integrity, viewership, and appreciation of heritage sites and structures.
In 2014, the big news was the construction of the high-rise condominium Torre de Manila which was labelled a “photobomber” or an attention grabber that spoils or ruins an otherwise normal photo as it obstructed the view of the Rizal Monument in Luneta.
The Torre de Manila is the worst kind of photobomber since it is a constant and stationary background blemish that ruins pictures of our national hero’s monument from all angles. The problem reached the Supreme Court in the case of Knights of Rizal vs. DMCI Homes.
In a decision dated April 18, 2017, the Supreme Court held that no sanction can be imposed on the owners and builders of Torre de Manila because there was no national law or local ordinance protecting cultural sightlines and penalizing any person, either natural or juridical, who causes obstruction.
This bill amply plugs that gaping loophole. Once this bill becomes a law, there can be no more photobombers obscuring the view and distracting from the full appreciation of cultural properties.
The precursor of this bill which was House Bill No. House Bill No. 8829, likewise entitled “An Act Protecting the Physical Integrity of a Cultural Property From Adverse Visual Impact and Penalizing Any Obstruction to its View and Sightline, Amending for the Purpose Republic Act No. 10066, Otherwise Known As The ‘National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009’”, was approved on third and final reading by the House of Representatives on March 15, 2021. Consistent with our Rules, the present bill, House Bill No. 1994, must be accorded a fast lane by the Committee on Basic Education and Culture.
Yesterday, I wrote the Speaker to prioritize the approval of this measure.
Honorable Chair and Members of the Committee, I earnestly seek the approval of this bill at the soonest possible time.