DPWH to stop demolition of Spanish-era bridge

By Edison Justin B. Deus, PGIN-CMO

The Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN) has coordinated with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), National Museum, and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to stop the demolition of Puente de Barit.

Social media had drawn attention to road development projects of the DPWH Ilocos Norte 1st Engineering District, which include the demolition and replacement of the Puente de Barit, a 200-year-old bridge built during the Spanish era.

However, Republic Act (RA) 10066, “An Act Providing for the Protection and Conservation of the National Cultural Heritage, Strengthening the NCCA and its Affiliated Cultural Agencies,” mandates the protection of heritage structures.

“It’s very unfortunate that incidents like this happen, especially in our province where culture and heritage are sources of livelihood for a lot of people. The bridge in Barit is an important heritage structure for the province,” remarked Provincial Tourism Officer Aianree B. Raquel.

The partial demolition of Puente de Barit gathered different reactions from Ilocano netizens, with many calling for its preservation.

“Daytoy tay rangtay idiay Barit, nagsayang! Rakrakenda ta sukatanda ti baro. Katawenna daytoy dagiti simbaan ken pagkampanaan a nagbalinen ita a tourist attraction ditoy Ilocos Norte (Sayang itong tulay sa Barit na gigibain upang patayuan ng bagong tulay. Kasing-luma nito ang mga simbahan at kampanaryo dito sa Ilocos Norte na naging pook pasyalan na ngayon.),” said one netizen on his Facebook post.

Raquel said that “It is very important for people to be aware. We should make the business of heritage conservation more approachable and relatable to the general population.

“PGIN should work with national cultural agencies and the DPWH so that we can really finally resolve and determine what to do with the heritage bridges that are along our highways,” he added.

DPWH Secretary Mark Villar has already ordered DPWH Ilocos Norte 1st Engineering District to stop the demolition, while NCCA, NHCP, and National Museum will send experts to assess the damage and take proper action.— (Edison Justin B. Deus, PGIN-CMO)