National Museum will be 'primary keeper' of Filipino heritage

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate approved on 3rd and final reading the bill that seeks to strengthen the National Museum as “primary keeper of Filipino heritage.”

Senate Bill No. 1529 or the “National Museum of the Philippines Act”, sponsored by Senator Francis Escudero, seeks to give additional functions and operation requirements to the National Museum. It was passed with a unanimous 21 votes on Tuesday, August 7.

If the bill becomes law, the National Museum will be tasked with acquiring documents as well as preserving, exhibiting, and fostering research of artworks, cultural, and historical artifacts that represent Filipino heritage and the country’s natural history.

The law will also allow the National Museum to retain and use all income derived from all its operations nationwide and overseas. This will grant it more flexibility in generating and spending its income to fund redevelopment.

Senator Loren Legarda, co-sponsor of the bill, hopes that with the strengthened mandate of the National Museum, its Anti-Forgery unit will be able to ramp up operations against forgery of works of Filipino artists.

"Whether it is an Amorsolo or Ben Cabrera, or any Filipino artists, their art works and masterpieces must be protected, both in law and practice,” Legarda said as she vowed to ensure funds for the unit.

The bill will also give duly designated representatives in the Philippines and abroad permission to procure collection items by means of direct negotiation with the owners of such items.

To remove conflict between the National Museum’s proposed task to collect items and its present task to regulate these, the bill proposes to transfer all regulatory functions of the museum to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

This so the museum can “focus exclusively on its operations and services as the premier museum institution and repository of the country.”

The proposed measure also lists structures to be in included in “the core of the National Museum of the Philippines Complex.”

These include structures housing the old Congress or Legislative Building, the Department of Finance, and the Department of Tourism, which are all located on the Agrifina Circle in Manila.

The whole Rizal Park, along with the National Planetarium, the Gomburza monument and its plaza, and the Intramuros golf course will also be included in the museum’s complex.

The bill also proposes to establish a regional museum and satellite office. Free admission fees will also be continued under the proposed measure. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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