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FACT CHECK: No hotel and mall bids for Manila Central Post Office site


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FACT CHECK: No hotel and mall bids for Manila Central Post Office site
Because of Manila’s zoning ordinance and the post office’s designation as an ‘important cultural property,’ no other building can be constructed on the site except for the post office

Claim: There are bid offers for hotel and mall projects for the Manila Central Post Office site.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The Facebook post, uploaded on May 22, has gained 134 reactions and 51 shares as of writing.

The post says: “Manila Central Post Office Property gets bid offers for 2 hotel projects and 1 mall.” 

There have been several other posts referencing the same claim. One post claims that there is purportedly a “standing offer” to develop the commercial structures at the site.

The bottom line: The Facebook post implies that the supposed offers were made recently after a fire razed the iconic building last May 21. As of writing, there have been no announcements or news reports about any bid offers. Additionally, Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna said no new building will rise on the site as the heritage building is protected by law.

Previous bids: Offers to convert the Manila Central Post Office into a hotel were made in 2012, years before the National Museum declared the site as an “Important Cultural Property” (ICP) in 2018.

The group behind Singapore’s Fullerton Hotel was reportedly in talks with the government to turn the post office into a five-star hotel. However, “events in 2003 failed to establish the nation’s stability and prevented the agreement,” according to former tourism secretary Richard Gordon. According to a VERA Files report, there were other concerns regarding the negotiations, such as the problem of flooding from the Pasig River and questions over ownership.

Protected by law: In a Facebook video, Lacuna sought to ease fears that commercial buildings will be built at the site of the post office. The mayor said that under the city’s zoning ordinance, the site where the building stands is considered an “institutional zone.”

According to guidelines from the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, this zone is intended for general types of institutional establishments such as government offices, hospitals, clinics, academic, research, and convention centers. Commercial establishments such as malls are not listed among the allowable uses.

Lacuna added that the post office’s designation as an ICP in 2018 also means that the area where it is located is considered a heritage zone. Given these circumstances, no other building can be constructed on the site except for the post office. 

As an ICP, the post office is entitled to receive government funding for protection, conservation, and restoration, according to Section 7 of Republic Act No. 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.

Section 9 of the law also states that in the purchase of cultural properties “declared as national cultural property,” the appropriate cultural agency shall be given “the right of first refusal” and may match any offer made for such purchase prior to the finality of the sale.

Historical site: The Manila Central Post Office building was built in 1926 and houses the headquarters of the Philippine Post Corporation. The neo-classical structure was designed by renowned architects Tomas Mapua, Juan Marcos de Guzman Arellano, and Ralph Doane.

The structure was damaged during World War II in 1945, but was later rebuilt in 1946. (FAST FACTS: Story of the Manila Central Post Office) – Kyle Marcelino/Rappler.com

Kyle Marcelino is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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