Iloilo City

Capitol official files complaint against Iloilo mayor over art deco façade destruction

Ambo Delilan

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Capitol official files complaint against Iloilo mayor over art deco façade destruction

COMPLAINT. Iloilo provincial information office chief Nereo Lujan swears before Ombudsman-Visayas prosecutor Joeann Galleto as he files an administrative complaint against Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas over the controversial art deco facade demolition in Iloilo City on Thursday, July 4, 2024.

courtesy of Nereo Lujan

(1st UPDATE) The complainant is the same person accused of cyber-libel by Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas in a complaint filed with the local prosecutor's office last May

BACOLOD, Philippines – The head of the Iloilo provincial government’s information office filed a complaint on Thursday, July 4, against Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas due to the controversial demolition of the art deco façade of the city’s century-old public market.

Nereo Lujan, a local historian who heads the public information and community affairs offices of the provincial government accused Treñas of grave misconduct, grave abuse of authority, conduct unbecoming, and acts prejudicial to the interest of service before the Office of the Ombudsman in Iloilo City.

Incidentally, Lujan is the subject of a complaint for cyber-libel filed by Treñas before the local prosecutor’s office on May 21. The mayor’s complaint stemmed from criticisms posted by Lujan on social media about the art deco façade demolition to pave the way for a construction project.

In a 17-page complaint received by Ombudsman graft investigation and prosecution officer Joeann Galleto, Lujan accused Treñas of ordering the demolition of the 86-year-old art deco façade of the Iloilo City Public Market in March without the green light of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP). 

Lujan said the demolition went against guidelines and legal requirements for preserving and conserving cultural heritage structures.

He said Treñas used his authority to cause the demolition despite lacking NHCP approval, an act which he saw as a betrayal of public trust.

The mayor, according to Lujan, failed to protect and uphold the law regarding historical preservation.

Treñas said, “We are confident we have not violated any law. We have followed all provisions of law on the matter. We are confident we have not violated any law. We are after only for the best of our beloved Ilonggos. We want the project to be completed on time.”

In previous interviews, he said city hall had no choice but to demolish the art deco façade because the Office of the Building Official (OBO) declared it unsafe due to poor structural integrity. 

Treñas also referenced a letter from former NHCP chairperson Rene Escalante, dated February 20, 2023, which indicated that the Commission was amenable to the development plans for the central market. However, the letter did not cite the demolition of the art deco façade which, Lujan asserted, was a violation.

The demolished structure, built during the American colonial period, was considered by local historians as a cultural property of Iloilo City. It once stood within the central business historical district heritage zone (CBHDHZ) of the city that was established through NHCP Resolution No. 3 in 2014.

Based on Republic Act 10066, anyone wishing to demolish historical or heritage structures for development must first secure approval from the NHCP.

The controversial demolition of the art deco façade was meant to pave the way for an ambitious P3-billion market rehabilitation project of the city government and SM Prime Holdings Incorporated (SMPHI). The public-private partnership project began in March and is expected to be completed in less than two years. –

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  1. MB

    About time for us to take heritage preservation seriously

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