by Dennis Principe
Athletes and sports officials can now heave a sigh of relief.
The Rizal Memorial Complex which the City of Manila has been eagerly trying to sell to a developer who planned to convert into a shopping mall, will stay as a sports complex.
In a ruling handed down recently, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) declared Rizal Memorial as a national historical landmark thus preventing it from being demolished or converted into something else.
The commission said it is declaring it as such by virtue of the powers vested in them by Republic Acts 10066 and 10086.
Resolution No. 5 of the NCHP, signed by its chairman Rene R. Escalante, four ex-officio members and one member, has identified the complex as ‘an important Cultural Property’ because of its historical significance.
The resolution mentioned the RMC’s contribution not only in past sports events but also its role during World War II as well as its hosting of countless entertainment, religious and social gatherings.
The NHCP stated that it was because of Filipinos’ adeptness in sports, as noticed by the Americans during the American period, that the large-scale complex was constructed within the 10-hectare Harrison Park which was then ceded by the City of Manila.
Section 5 of RA 10066 states that anything declared by the NHCP as an important cultural property will get protection from any attempt to modify, demolish or sell the said property.
The resolution, approved by the NHCP board last March 27, was lauded by Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William Ramirez.
Ramirez immediately thanked the National Museum of the Philippines through Director IV Jeremy Barns.
“We appreciate with thanks the passing of the said declaration after due deliberation of the National Museum panel of experts. It is with great joy that we accept the recognition,” said Ramirez . “Rest assured of our commitment to protect, preserve and conserve these historical structures considered as cultural heritage which will serve as inspiration and pride of today’s Filipino youth and the future generation.”
One of those who opposed its sale was Rio Olympics silver medal winner Hidilyn Diaz. Several other top athletes and former national athletes also opposed its sale.