Court stops Taal Basilica project
MANILA, Philippines – The construction of the controversial Jubilee Hall events venue beside the historic Taal Basilica has been temporarily stopped by a local court.
On November 14, the Taal Regional Trial Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the construction of the two-story structure, a project of Taal parish priest Alfredo Madlangbayan, according to renowned sculptor Ramon Orlina, a Taaleño himself who campaigned to stop the construction.
It was Orlina who asked for the TRO, telling the court the events venue would cheapen the National Historical Landmark beside it and that its construction violates heritage laws. (READ: Artist, priest fight over Taal Basilica project)
A presidential decree states that altering the original features of a National Historical Landmark without permission from the National Historical Commission (NHCP) is illegal.
Orlina also asserted that the building's design, made to look like the ruins of a Roman arcade, would clash with the basilica's "Augustinian architecture" and lessen the "authenticity" of Taal as a heritage town. It has been a long-time dream of Orlina and his family to see Taal declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site like Vigan in Ilocos Sur.
Madlangbayan however argued that the Jubilee Hall would be a way to raise funds for the church as it could be rented out to small businesses or for events like wedding receptions.
The court also decided that after 20 days, a hearing for a court injunction will take place. The hearing requires the two parties, Orlina and Madlangbayan or the Taal parish, to explain their side of the issue. The hearing will determine whether the construction should be stopped permanently or allowed to continue.
The granting of the TRO gives Orlina hope for the preservation of heritage in his hometown.
"At least it [construction] has been stopped. Until the very end, there were still many workers working on the building. Now, his [Madlangbayan's] delaying tactics will not work," he said.
He believes their case is strong based on a previous court decision which stopped the construction of an inappropriately planned and designed chapel also in Taal Basilica. The chapel was a project of the previous parish priest Jose Salazar.
"I think we have a very strong case to win and demolish it. I have great hopes for the best in our culture, heritage and patrimony," said Orlina.
Rappler asked Madlangbayan for his reaction to the decision but he refused to comment. – Rappler.com