Cebuano lawmakers rally behind guv over disputed BRT project

By John Rey Saavedra

March 25, 2024, 5:39 pm

<p>The Cebu Capitol Building located on Escario St., Cebu City. <em>(PNA file photo by John Rey Saavedra)</em></p>

The Cebu Capitol Building located on Escario St., Cebu City. (PNA file photo by John Rey Saavedra)

CEBU CITY – Cebuano lawmakers rallied behind Governor Gwendolyn Garcia’s position against the ongoing Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project that affects the Cebu Provincial Capitol’s building.

The collective statement came after Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama filed on March 20 an administrative case against Garcia after the latter issued a cease-and-desist order against the construction of bus stations for the BRT project.

Garcia said the ongoing construction of the BRT on portions of the capitol’s buffer zone and Fuente Osmeña Rotunda would violate Republic Act No. 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.

“The Cebu Provincial Capitol is one of the best and iconic architectures in the Philippines. It is declared a National Historical Landmark and expresses Cebu’s rich culture and history,” Mandaue City Lone District Rep. Emmarie Ouano Dizon said in a statement.

Rep. Peter John D. Calderon of Cebu’s 7th District echoed that the historic capitol is a declared heritage site and the most recognizable and iconic building on the whole Island of Cebu.

“Its universal value as a historic, cultural, and heritage site, including its buffer zone, must be protected and preserved for the benefit of the present and future generations of Filipinos, especially Cebuanos,” he said.

Ako Bisaya Partylist Rep. Sonny Lagon said the capitol building is one of the last surviving neoclassical and “art deco” structures in Cebu built during the American occupation in the 1930s that if the BRT is allowed would encroach its buffer zone.

The wife of Lagon, Cebu’s 6th District Rep. Daphne Lagon said the building possesses a Grade 1 Level Heritage Structure classification that requires stricter protective measures to preserve it.

In his complaint, Rama asked President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to initiate a thorough and impartial investigation against the governor.

He asked the President to preventively suspend Garcia “to prevent the usage of her office to influence witnesses or to frustrate her prosecution or to continue committing such malfeasance and/or misconduct in office.”

The governor has yet to release a statement on the issue. (PNA)