The Ghost of Mercado Central

The ongoing controversy surrounding the Central Market in Iloilo City is like a ghost that refuses to die, despite Mayor Jerry Treñas’ efforts to assure the public of the demolition’s regularity through rose advertorials and canned statements of support.

The market’s demolition, conducted under a cloud of secrecy and alleged legal violations, highlights the urgent need for transparency and accountability in public governance.

Despite multiple assurances from Mayor Treñas, the demolition of the 80-year-old art deco Central Market continues to spark outrage. The market, a presumed important cultural property, is a significant part of Iloilo’s historical and cultural landscape.

While some groups and individuals have rightfully called for a quicker resolution, their advocacy must also demand accountability from Mayor Treñas. It is not enough to accept his assurances at face value. They must ensure that his actions align with legal and cultural preservation standards.

Questions surrounding the legality of the demolition, particularly the absence of clearance from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), demand thorough investigation.

The Central Market’s demolition is not merely about paving the way for big businesses like SM; it is fundamentally about preserving our cultural heritage and ensuring transparent governance. The market’s rich history, spanning over a century, was a testament to Iloilo’s architectural legacy. Its sudden destruction, if done without proper clearance, may have violated Republic Act 10066, which mandates the protection of national cultural heritage.

The administrative complaint filed against Mayor Treñas outlines serious allegations, including grave misconduct and abuse of authority. The complainant contends that the demolition was conducted without proper clearance from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), violating Republic Act 10066. This law mandates the protection and conservation of historic buildings over 50 years old, emphasizing the significance of transparency in such processes.

Mayor Treñas’ defense, citing safety concerns and legal adherence, must be rigorously scrutinized to ensure that all actions were above board.

He maintains that all legal processes were followed, citing reports declaring the structure unsafe. However, the lack of explicit NHCP approval for the demolition raises significant concerns. The public deserves a clear and transparent explanation of the decisions made regarding the market’s redevelopment.

Tthe complaint against Treñas is a timely venue and opportunity towards these ends.

The Central Market demolition transcends the fate of one building. It reflects on the broader issues of governance, transparency, and respect for cultural heritage in Iloilo City.

The push to redevelop the market should not come at the expense of erasing our historical landmarks. Instead, development should incorporate heritage conservation, ensuring that our cultural identity is preserved for future generations.

Amid the legal and administrative battles, it is imperative for all stakeholders to prioritize transparency and accountability.

Mayor Treñas must address these concerns openly, providing a clear account of the steps taken and decisions made regarding the market’s redevelopment.

The public, too, must remain vigilant, advocating for the preservation of our cultural heritage amidst development pressures.

By demanding transparency and holding public officials accountable, we can ensure that Iloilo’s development honors our past while paving the way for a sustainable and inclusive future.

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