By Hannah Torregoza
A measure seeking the creation of a new Department of Culture is nearing passage at the Senate as 16 senators have signed the Committee Report No. 137 for Senate Bill No. 1528 or the proposed “Department of Culture Act.”
The bill, now on second reading, proposes to reorganize the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) into an independent Department of Culture “which will promote and develop the country’s cultural traditions.”
The bill seeks to create and appropriate funds for a new Department of Culture, “in recognition of the vital role of Filipino culture in nation-building.” It is sponsored and authored by Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, chairperson of the Senate committee on education, arts and culture.
“The passage of this bill will further nurture and preserve our Filipino heritage by enhancing the agency’s mandate and giving it more authority in implementing the programs that will promote the importance of the Philippine arts and culture,” Escudero said.
Co-authors of the measure include Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri and Senators Loren Legarda, Nancy Binay, Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV, Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, Joel Villanueva, Sherwin Gatchalian, Risa Hontiveros, and Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara.
Escudero said the proposed new government agency, with its attached agencies, shall be responsible for the “protection, preservation, regulation, development, management, dissemination and promotion of the cultural, historical and artistic heritage and resources, tangible and intangible, of the Philippines and the Filipino people.”
Under the bill, the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), National Museum of the Philippines (NMP), National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), National Library of the Philippines (NLP), National Archives of the Philippines (NAP), Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino (KWF), Intramuros Administration (lA), National Parks Development Committee (NPDC), Nayong Filipino Foundation (NPF), Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), National Book Development Board (NBDB) and Design Center of the Philippines (DCP), would be attached to the new Department of Culture.
Escudero said the bill also calls for policy reforms, such as the establishment of “Rizal Centers” or cultural hubs that will provide Filipinos access to cultural resources within the country and abroad “for the benefit of the global diaspora of Philippine citizens.”
The proposed department would be headed by a Cabinet secretary, who will be joined by at least three undersecretaries and five assistant secretaries.
Should the bill become a law, Escudero said the initial funding for the Department of Culture will come from the current fiscal year’s appropriation for the NCCA through the Office of the President.
But subsequent budgetary appropriations—which would not be less than P2-billion—will be included in the national budget for the upcoming years.