The proposed demolition of the 54-year old municipal building in Panganiban town this week has been called off by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) after the issue received adverse reaction from residents on social media.
According to informed sources, representatives of the DPWH Catanduanes District Engineering Office met with LGU officials led by Mayor Cesar Robles last Monday, June 14, 2021, to thresh out a “win-win” solution to the matter.
The chief executive informed that the new proposal is to retrofit the old building and build an addition at the back that would utilize part of the multipurpose building.
The good news was welcomed by residents, who expressed hope that the local government would come to terms with the DPWH and agree for a better alternative without demolishing the historic building.
A ranking official at the national infra agency earlier told the Tribune that it had received inquiries from town residents regarding the proposed improvement and renovation of the municipal building, which is being funded by the Ang Probinsyano partylist group to the tune of P30 million.
The current administration allegedly expressed its desire to tear down the old building as most of its occupants are apprehensive about their safety.
Supposed to replace it is a three-storey new building which would extend about five meters from the existing municipal building and occupy the drive way.
The planned demolition of the old building, however, garnered negative comments from many Payonhons, who described the decision as unwise and injudicious.
One prominent resident, Metro Manila-based cardiologist and frequent visitor Dr. Rene Reyes, claimed that the old building is not decrepit and crumbling and that it does not pose a hazard to residents.
“It can be renovated, refurbished, retrofitted, repurposed,” he said, citing suggestions to convert it into a new facility like a museum, a move which can be spearheaded by the private sector.
“Should you reconsider and revisit the design of the new building and construct it behind the old one or build it as designed in a new suitable site, the twin purposes of creating more space for our local government offices and preserving an iconic heritage structure would have been met,” he stressed.
With construction started in the mid-1960s and inaugurated in 1967, the municipal hall has become part of Panganiban’s heritage, an iconic structure used by past leaders in building a stronger and more progressive town, Dr. Reyes stated.
Of the 11 towns in the province, six have seen their old municipal buildings either destroyed and replaced by a new one or complemented by an addition or new building.
In 2000, a new municipal building was constructed in front of the old Virac municipal building, which is currently being repaired due to damage sustained during super typhoon Rolly.
Pandan also renovated its municipio while Caramoran razed the old one and undertook construction of a new one now nearing completion at the former site.
Bato and San Miguel renovated or improved their existing buildings in recent administrations while Baras inaugurated a new building during the term of then Mayor Jose Teves Jr.
On the other hand, the San Andres municipal hall has remained fundamentally unchanged, with new buildings built in the vicinity to accommodate new offices and increasing number of personnel.
The Viga LGU under Mayor Emeterio Tarin has reportedly secured a P120-million loan from the Development Bank of the Philippines for the construction of a modern multi-storey municipal building with built-in safeguards implementing safety protocols against future virus pandemics.
It is not known if the construction of the new building would require the demolition of the old “municipio.”
On the other hand, Gigmoto LGU is borrowing P30 million for the construction of the first floor of a three-storey new building, with the top two floors being sought for funding from Congressman Hector Sanchez and Congressman Jose Teves Jr.