(This is a rather lengthy article. However, this may serve as reference to any questions regarding the legality of activities in and around the Pawod Underwater Cave system)
Since the discovery of Pawod Underwater Cave System in 2002, there has been lots of changes due to unregulated diving activities inside the cave. Some changes are detrimental to the preservation of this unique natural resource. Pawod is indeed a “jewel in our midst” (FCD Bernil, 2013). And, Pawod begs for our protection.
Republic Act 10066, AN ACT PROVIDING FOR THE PROTECTION AND CONSERVATION OF THE NATIONAL CULTURAL HERITAGE, for short, The National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009 was passed by both houses of congress in December 2009 at the 14th Congress, Third Regular Session, and signed into law by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in March 26, 2010. It fulfills the desires of the Philippine Constitution of 1987 under Sections 14-17, mandating the state to conserve and develop the nation’s resources.
PERTINENT SECTIONS OF RA 10066 AS IT RELATES TO PAWOD
- ARTICLE I: POLICIES AND PRINCIPLES – …It further provides that all the country’s artistic and historic wealth constitutes the cultural treasure of the nation and shall be under the protection of the State, which may regulate its disposition.
- ARTICLE II:
- Section 3…(d) “Archaeological area” shall refer to any place, whether above or under ground, underwater or at sea level, containing fossils, artifacts and other cultural, geological, botanical, zoological materials which depict and document culturally relevant paleontological, prehistoric and/or historic events; (j) “Cultural agencies” shall refer to the following national government agencies with their specific areas of responsibility: National Museum (cultural property); the National Library (books); National Historical Institute (Philippine history)…(q) “Heritage zone” shall refer to historical, anthropological, archaeological, artistic geographical areas and settings that are culturally significant to the country, as declared hy the National Museum and/or the National Historical Institute…(w) “Important cultural property” shall refer to a cultural property having exceptional…historical significance to the Philippines, as shall be determined by the National Museum and/or National Historical Institute.
- ARTICLE IV:
- Section 12. Designation of Heritage Zones. – The National Historical Institute and the National Museum, in consultation with the Commission and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board or other concerned agencies, shall designate heritage zones to protect the historical and cultural integrity of a geographical area.
- Section 13. Maintenance of Heritage Zones. – A heritage zone shall be maintained by the local government unit concerned, in accordance with the following guidelines:…(b)Appearance of…and natural bodies of water, canals, paths and barangays within a locality shall be maintained as close to their appearance at the time the area was of most importance to Philippine history as determined by the National Historical Institute
ARTICLE V: REGISTRATION AND CONSERVATION OF CULTURAL PROPERTY
- Section 14. Establishment of a Philippine Registry of Cultural Property. – All cultural properties of the country deemed important to cultural heritage shall be registered in the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property…
- Section 15. Conservation of Cultural Property. – All intervention works and measures on conservation of national cultural treasures, important cultural property…shall be undertaken through the appropriate cultural agency which shall supervise the same. The appropriate cultural agency shall approve only those methods and materials that strictly adhere to the accepted international standards of conservation…
- Section 17. Systematic Research in Natural History. – The National Museum shall have the authority to collect, maintain and develop the national reference collections of Philippine flora and fauna, rocks and minerals through research and field collection of specimens including important cultural property within the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines. It shall be exempt from any and all permit systems regulating the same…The National Museum shall inform the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture of such collection. All types of specimen collected in the Philippine territory shall be deposited in the National Museum.
ARTICLE VII: POWERS OF THE COMMISSION/CULTURAL AGENCIES
- Section 25. Power to Issue a Cease and Desist Order. – When the physical integrity of the national cultural treasures or important cultural properties are found to be in danger of destruction or significant alteration from its original state, the appropriate cultural agency shall immediately issue a Cease and Desist Order ex parte suspending all activities that will affect the cultural property. The local government unit which has the jurisdiction over the site where the immovable cultural property is located shall report the same to the appropriate cultural agency immediately upon discovery and shall promptly adopt measures to secure the integrity of such immovable cultural property. Thereafter, the appropriate cultural agency shall give notice to the owner or occupant of the cultural property and conduct a hearing on the propriety of the issuance of the Cease and Desist Order. The suspension of the activities shall be lifted only upon the written authority of the appropriate cultural agency after due notice and hearing involving the interested parties and stakeholders…
- Section 28. Power to Deputize Other Government Agencies. – The cultural agencies concerned, as well as the Commission, shall have the power to deputize the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Coast Guard, and other local or national law enforcement agencies, including the Bureau of Fisheries’ agents, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ rangers, the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Immigration agents…to enforce the provisions of this Act and its implementing rules and regulations. The said agencies shall immediately detail their respective personnel to protect the cultural items under the National Registry.
ARTICLE VIII : ROLE OF CULTURAL AGENCIES…(e)The National Museum shall be responsible for significant movable and immovable cultural and natural property pertaining to collections of fine arts, archaeology, anthropology, botany, geology, zoology and astronomy, including its conservation aspect.
- ARTICLE IX : CULTURAL PROPERTY INCENTIVES PROGRAM
- Section 36. National Heritage Resource Assistance Program. – The Commission may provide financial assistance in the form of a grant to historic, archaeological, architectural, artistic organizations for conservation or research on cultural property. No grant made pursuant to this Act shall be treated as taxable income…
- Section 37. Awards and Citations. – To encourage preservation of the national heritage, the Commission shall establish an annual conservation recognition program under which monetary prizes, awards and citations will be given by the President of the Philippines, upon the recommendation of the Commission, for special achievements and important contributions and services in the area of heritage preservation and conservation efforts.
- Section 48. Prohibited Acts. – To the extent that the offense is not punishable by a higher punishment under another provision of law, violations of this Act may be made by whoever intentionally: (a)Destroys, demolishes, mutilates or damages any world heritage site, national cultural treasures, important cultural property and archaeological and anthropological sites…
- Section 49. Penal Provisions. – Upon conviction, the offender shall be subject to a fine of not less than Two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000.00) or imprisonment for a term of not less than ten (10) years, or both, upon the discretion of the court…Provided, finally, That if the offender is an al
- ien, he/she shall be placed under the custody of the Bureau of Immigration for the appropriate proceedings under this Act and shall be summarily deported after serving his/her sentence.