Residents of this city filed a case in the regional trial court (RTC) on Monday for violating environmental and cultural heritage laws against local government officials and contractors who allegedly vandalized the Anahaw Amphitheater.
Also among those who filed the case was the National Commission on Senior Citizens Commissioner Atty. Franklin Quijano.
The local government’s amphitheater was allegedly demolished to beautify and make it safer, according to Councilor Sorelie Bacsarpa, committee chair on Culture and the Arts there.
The National Heritage Institute also did not declare Anahaw Amphitheater a cultural heritage.
One of the attractions in the city is such an amphitheater. According to the LGU’s website, the “improvement” also aims to fix the landscape design and lighting there.
“The Improvement of Anahaw Amphitheatre Cultural Heritage Project focuses mainly on the improvement of existing but broken-down structures such as the concrete bleachers and stairways, retaining walls, and perimeter guard railings,” according to the city’s statement.
“The project would also cover the rehabilitation of the existing basketball court, and the addition of pathways and jogging area on the upper portion of the amphitheater… The said project would also constitute the beautification, landscape design, and lighting of the whole area,” it added.
The local government allegedly obtained a Special Allotment Release Order of more than P17 million from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for its repairs.
Several Iligan City officials charged with destroying Anahaw Amphitheater
But according to Quijano, the Anahaw Amphitheater, which was manually built in the 1960s using coral stones, can be considered a cultural heritage.
He also said that the local government did not make simple repairs because the coral stones were demolished without public consultation.
“Hustisya ang aming hinihingi. Ibalik nyo ang tiwala ng mga tao. Hindi lang ang ampitheater ang inyong sinira. Ang serbisyo niyo hindi niyo ginawa. You have to restore,” said Quijano.
According to one of the plaintiffs, Atty. Betsy Zalsos, the LGU has not obtained an environmental compliance certificate from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The purpose of the Anahaw Amphitheater is not just to beautify. It also serves as slope protection. It is said that plowing in the amphitheater can cause landslides.
The group also criticized the demolition of the LGU amphitheater first and then sought authorization from the City Council.
They also plan to sue the councilors who gave the authorization.
They also asked the court for a temporary environmental protection order and nullification of the contract between the LGU and the contractor.
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