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No wrecking ball?

Rizal Memorial now a historical landmark.

The Rizal Memorial Sports Complex has been officially declared a National Historical Landmark, thereby preventing anyone from selling the iconic sports venue.

No less than the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) made this declaration 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 RMSC’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 expressed their approval of the declaration by sending a formal letter to the National Museum of the Philippines addressed to 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,” stated Ramirez in the letter “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.”

Recently, the existence of the RMSC became a thorny issue when incumbent Manila mayor Joseph Estrada expressed his strong desire to convert the complex into a commercial center.

“Wala nang gumagamit. Wala nang kinikita. Luma na lahat. Paano pa mapapakinabangan ng city? Wala na, antiquated na ang Rizal (Memorial Sports Complex),” Estrada said.

Earlier media reports said that the city government is in discussions with the Razon Group, owned by business tycoon Enrique Razon, which offered to buy it and convert it into a modern complex that will have commercial buildings, a mall, and a sports museum.

Once it gives up control over the sports complex, PSC will earn around P2 billion from the sale, enough, Estrada said, to build the new training center in Clark.

Estrada’s declaration however was met with strong opposition, mainly from former and current national athletes and heritage advocates. (DENNIS PRINCIPE)

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