The proposed demolition of the 57-year old municipal building in Panganiban town will proceed after all, but only after clearance from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) is secured.
In a public consultation held by Mayor Cesar Robles and other local government officials at the town plaza last Friday, June 18, 2021, a huge majority of barangay captains, youth leaders, senior citizens and members of the Sangguniang Bayan reportedly favored the tearing down of the building.
Vice Mayor Remelito Cabrera had earlier expressed the council’s sentiment that the established process be followed before the demolition could be given the green light.
Engineers of the Department of Public Works and Highways presented before the forum its structural assessment report on the two-storey building with concrete structural frame and wood slab system.
The report, based on an inspection conducted last year, stated that while the reinforced concrete columns and beams were in good condition, some of them exhibited spalling or breaking off into smaller fragments, corroded reinforcements, and cracking.
The floor slab system also had a dilapidated underside concrete slab and damage to the old wooden flooring, it said.
Classifying the damage as minor to major structural hazard, the DPWH engineers stated that the deterioration of the concrete reinforcement in the beams and underside slab was caused by water leakage.
The inspectors also observed deficiencies in ductile detailing requirement of existing column reinforcements.
“This shows that all existing columns do not satisfy the current structural code (National Structural Code of the Philippines 2015),” the report added, citing the fact that the building was conducted in 1965.
While the columns and beams that may be part of the proposed three-storey new municipal building may be retrofitted to conform with the Code, the DPWH stressed that it will be uneconomical to restore the columns with major spalling and severe corrosion.
It recommended that the damaged structural members be reconstructed along with the concrete stab at the second floor.
“The existing condition of the building is restricted and unsafe for use based on the evaluation safety assessment,” the report concluded.
A local official who read the report had earlier said that with the DPWH report noting that the observed structural hazards need further investigation using non-destructive test, an outside structural expert could be consulted to give a definitive and final assessment of the building’s real condition.
The Municipal Engineer and Local Building Official, Engr. Silvestre Villamor, would have to issue a finding that the building is already unsafe for occupancy for the demolition to be approved by NCCA.
Last week, the DPWH was strongly inclined to forego the demolition of the municipal building due to the growing opposition on social media.
It may be recalled that the furor over the issue peaked on social media among Panganiban netizens after prominent cardiologist Dr. Rene Reyes expressed his opinion in a Facebook post 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.
Residents recalled that construction of the municipio began in the mid-1960s during the term of Dr. Reyes’ father as municipal mayor and was inaugurated in 1967.
While the municipal hall has become part of Panganiban’s heritage, it is not yet known if it had been submitted by the LGU as part of the Local Cultural Inventory under the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property.
In Joint Memorandum Circular No. 2021-001 issued on May 7, 2021, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the NCCA reiterated to LGUs the mandate of Republic Act 10066, or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, to establish and maintain an inventory of cultural property and to document and preserve the traditional and contemporary arts within their jurisdiction.
The LGU is supposed to prepare the Local Cultural Inventory and endorse the same to the Sanggunian for adoption as the LGU’s official inventory of cultural properties.
Such cultural properties include structures including municipal buildings, geological formations, bodies of water, protected areas, and historical sites or cultural landscapes.