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Church-based groups seek help to block obelisk plan

The Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) of the St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish of the Diocese of Dumaguete and several church-based organizations are seeking the help of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) to help stop the construction of an 18-level obelisk at the Quezon Park in the capital.

Dumaguete Cathedral PPC president William Ablong, in an interview yesterday, said they are hoping for the immediate intervention of the NHCP and other similar agencies to look into this project and prevent the city government from implementing it.

The perspective of the 18-storey obelisk that will be constructed in front of the cathedral in Dumaguete City*

The PPC wrote to NHCP chair Dr. Rene Escalante this week regarding its opposition, citing legal, environmental, historical, religious, cultural, and other areas of concern, Ablong said.

Other reasons for their opposition include peace and order and traffic concerns, health and public safety with the park providing “green, open space”, and the lack of public consultation, he said.

The project held its groundbreaking late last month.

The city government, represented by Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo, and the obelisk donor, Don Ramas Uypitching, a Freemason, had entered into a memorandum of agreement for the establishment of the structure, for tourism purposes, among other things.

Ablong said since the Cathedral is situated right across the Quezon Park, they, at the PPC, deemed it necessary to be the first to formalize their opposition to the project by coming up with a statement and writing NHCP chairman to intervene in stopping the project.

“We came up with that statement since we at the Cathedral should be the first to show concern and opposition in the event something happens to the front portion of the church,” he said in the vernacular.

The PPC, Ablong said, is the implementing arm of all the policies, programs, and activities of the church in a parish.

The obelisk is proposed to be constructed right in front of the centuries-old Cathedral belfry and will run parallel to The Presidencia, or the restored portion of the old city hall.

The park, the Cathedral, the belfry, and its surroundings form part of a “national treasure” and in fact, the Cathedral parish is currently celebrating its 400 years from the time of its establishment, he said.

Ablong added that 38 religious movements, organizations, and other church-based groups have signed their petition-statement, as well as Msgr. Robert Bongoyan, the Cathedral parish priest, being the spiritual director of the PPC. Ablong said they are also considering a signature campaign to put a stop to the obelisk project even though other groups in the city that are not church-based have also embarked on similar campaigns.*PNA

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