The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has committed P5 million for the restoration of the world-renowned Rice Terraces of the Philippines in Ifugao province.
This was disclosed recently by DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje, who said that the amount was included in a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed among the DENR; the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) National Commission of the Philippines (NatCom) represented by its Secretary-General Dr. Virginia Miralao; and the provincial government of Ifugao, represented by its Governor Eugene Balitang.
Paje said the DENR’s commitment is to provide assistance to the local government of Ifugao in rehabilitating the terraces, especially in Batad which has been assessed by experts as the “most damaged.”
“The DENR appreciates the natural and cultural heritage that the rice terraces bear, and we are one with the provincial government and the rest of the Filipino people in recognizing the need to reverse the deterioration of this heritage site, especially those areas that were damaged by typhoons,” he said.
The restoration process, he explained, would be undertaken until the end of this year. It would include the repair and rehabilitation of damaged terrace walls, irrigation canals and other facilities. These would all form part of “corrective measures” being undertaken by the Philippine government to have the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras removed from the “endangered” status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Under the MOA, the UNESCO NatCom is identified as a “go-between” in the disbursement of the fund to the province of Ifugao, and shall submit to the DENR project documentation and other liquidation reports.
In return, the provincial government, as project implementer, will come up with a work and financial plan that will require the regular submission of reports and other documents showing the details on how the amount was utilized. It will also be primarily responsible for the mobilization of other parties in the rehabilitation work “by utilizing to the best extent possible indigenous methods and techniques.”
The Rice Terraces was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. The UNESCO describes the Rice Terraces as “the only monuments in the Philippines that show no evidence of having been influenced by colonial cultures… The history [of the terraces] is intertwined with that of its people, their culture and their traditional practices.” In 2001, it was inscribed into the “List of Word Heritage in Danger.” Since then, other government agencies and the private sector have been trying to raise funds for its rehabilitation.
- Published: 04 May 2012