Huge billboards banned from Calle Real

Oversized billboards will no longer be allowed in Calle Real which has been declared a heritage zone of Iloilo City. (Emme Rose Santiagudo)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

Companies who own six oversized billboards installed in heritage buildings in the Downtown Central Business District Heritage Zone or “Calle Real” in City Proper, Iloilo Cityhave until November 30, 2019 to remove or dismantle these advertising materials.

City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) head Engr. Noel Hechanova, who is a member of the Iloilo City Cultural Heritage Conservation Council (ICCHCC), said they sent letters to companies and shop owners of the billboards which are considered obstructions in Calle Real.

Hechanovasaid any form of aerial obstruction, particularly billboards installed in the heritage buildings, are prohibited by the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Downtown Central Business District Heritage Zone Ordinance.

“They have to remove it by November 30, amonaamon deadline kay Calle Real should be a no billboard area. As stipulated in our guidelines, aerial obstruction or any form of obstruction ngamaguba ang architectural design sang heritage area is not allowed,” he said in a phone interview on Thursday.

The CBD Heritage Zone encompasses the following streets: JM Basa, Iznart, Aldeguer, Arsenal, Guanco, Plaza Libertad, Rizal, Arroyo, and Mapa.

Under Section 17 of the CBD Heritage Zone, design parameters and guidelines were laid down to retain the unique ambiance of the historic streetscape.

Based on the provision, only existing signs and advertising the business of and existing bona fide building owner, occupant or lessee shall be retained under certain conditions set by the ICCHCC.

Only one sign per store, shop, or bona fide business is allowed by the ordinance.

Moreover, the ordinance mandates that “existing signs placed on a balcony, cornice, capital, bracket, roof, door or window, placed in any manner that disfigures or conceals any architectural feature or detail of the building will no longer be allowed improvement or expansion without the written approval of the ICCHCC”.

“Traditional signages shall include but shall not be limited to huge billboards on rooftops, signages that are located beyond the curb (per PD 1096 prescriptions) or beyond 120 mm from the building face whichever is lower and lightened signs that protrude beyond 150 mm from the allowable limit,” the ordinance furthered.

Existing signage will undergo evaluation with careful consideration on the guidelines while non-conforming signages shall be gradually phased out within five years upon the approval of the guideline.

For new signage, the design should be approved by the ICCHCC and shall be an item for consideration in the Conservation Plan Clearance.

There shall only be a maximum of two signages allowed for every store, shop, or business establishment and should only display their business/corporate names.

“Their placement at balconies, cornices, capital, brackets, roofs, doors or windows should not disfigure any architectural feature or detail of the building

Depending on the façade design, the maximum size of a signboard for every day (in between two columns) or per total leased frontage should not exceed 1/3 of bay’s horizontal width or 1/3 of total width of a business establishment’s leased frontage.

According to Hechanova, they will be forced to tap the Task Force of Anti-Squatting and Illegal Structures (ASIS) if the owners or companies refuse to remove their huge billboards by November 30.

“I hope macomply nanila. We are studying how we can dismantle it and remove it konindinila pagsundon we will be forced to send in ASIS. Amo nangagapanawagan man akosamga building owners ngamagpalapitsaopisina kay tehbal-an mokonkaisakalabanan are case to case to basis, gina-advise gidnamon ang shop owners to visit CENRO here at the City Hall and look for the secretariat of the ICCHCC,” he said.

As part of their thrust to protect and preserve heritage zones in the metro, Hechanova said they already started deploying teams to remove graffiti and stickers posted on the heritage buildings in Calle Real.

“Part ni sang anti-littering ordinance, part ini sang project sang ICCHCC. As of now, we have covered around 30 percent of Calle Real,” he said.

Hechanova said they plan to expand the campaign into other parts in the metro particularly the public markets and public plazas in preparation for the flocking of tourists for the Dinagyang Festival next year.

We are planning to expand the campaign into the other parts of the metro. Nagarequest pa kita sang anti-littering team to cover the barangays like mgalugarngakadtuan sang mgabisita like public market, heritage sites so dalainasaamon target. Hopefully, matagaan kami additional personnel para makaoperate kami samga barangays and merkado,” he said.

The CENRO head said they are serious in keeping the public conveyances and public spaces in the metro clean in order to sustain the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Clean Tourist City Award clinched by the city.

“We have to sustain this, nagaclaimkita ASEAN ngamalimpyokita dayonindi ta masustain eh anonalangabi that is why ang programanaton we are looking at it seriously because the mayor is really supportive of this,” he said.