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Press Release - Opening statement Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda

Good morning. I would like to thank all the resource speakers who came today to join today's hearing with our agenda on several pressing matters of national importance, namely P.S. Res. Nos. 627 and 635, addressing the tragic fire incident at the Manila Central Post Office; P.S. Res. No. 636, focusing on the imperative restoration and rehabilitation of this iconic landmark; P.S. Res. No. 637, delving into the investigation of the conflagration that engulfed the Manila Central Post Office; and P.S. Res. No. 642, which directs our attention to the broader scope of investigating both natural and man-made disasters affecting cultural heritage sites throughout our country.

Today, we convene with a solemn recognition of the significance of the Manila Central Post Office building, an architectural gem that has withstood the test of time for 97 years. Its endurance through the decades has been a testament to its resilience, cultural importance, and place in our shared heritage.

In 2012, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines bestowed upon the Manila Central Post Office the prestigious title of National Historical Landmark. Subsequently, in 2018, the National Museum elevated its status further by designating it as an Important Cultural Property (ICP). These accolades underscore this iconic structure's profound cultural and historical value for our nation.

The devastating fire that engulfed the Manila Central Post Office in May 2023 was not just a loss of physical structure; it was a loss of our cultural heritage, a loss of our identity, and a loss of a tangible connection to our past. As Filipinos, we mourn the destruction of the building and the intangible heritage it represented.

We are here today confronted with the urgent task of restoring and rehabilitating this historic landmark. Our responsibility extends beyond mere reconstruction; it entails a commitment to preserve and safeguard our cultural heritage for generations. The destruction of our built heritage, whether by natural disasters or neglect, diminishes the very essence of our national identity.

As we embark on this restoration journey, let us engage in a meaningful dialogue that encompasses