By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The bill seeking to rename the National Museum into “National Museum of the Philippines” is ready for President Duterte’s signature.
The proposed “National Museum of the Philippines Act”, principally authored by Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano and Magdalo partylist Rep. Gary Alejano, has been transmitted to Malacanañg on March 27, 2019, according to the records of House of Representatives’ Bills and Index Service.
The bill seeks to rename the National Museum as the “National Museum of the Philippines” or the “Pambansang Museo ng Pilipinas.”
MAGDALO partylist Rep. Gary Alejano sought the immediate enactment into law of the bill, saying that it would strengthen the organization and operations of the National Museum.
“Envisioned as the premier institution and repository of our heritage, our National Museum is indeed a significant place that serves as an inspiration to learn from our traditions and to help shape a better future,” he said.
He said the measure seeks to sustain the conservation of our cultural treasures and foster scholarly study and appreciation of works of art specimens and cultural and historical artifacts.
The measure tasks the National Museum to keep an eye on the management and development of museums and collections of national scope or significance in the areas of arts, cultural heritage, and national history.
“To ensure its independence and autonomy, the National Museum shall be uniquely considered as a trust of the government, attached solely for budgetary coordination and related purposes to the Department of Education (DepEd),” according to the bill.
The whole Executive House, also known as the former Congress or Legislative Building, together with the former buildings of the Department of Finance and Department of Tourism, shall house the permanent and exclusive site of the National Museum and shall form the core of the National Museum Complex in the national capital.
Also included in the National Museum Complex are the existing buildings of the National Planetarium located in Rizal Park.
Under the bill, the National Museum shall also preserve the former Session Halls of the House of Representatives and the Senate in the former Legislative Building as a tribute to the legacy of the great men and women of the Philippine Legislature.
The National Museum Complex, being part of Rizal Park in Manila, shall be dedicated to the life, work, martyrdom, and memory of Dr. Jose Rizal.
The bill mandates the National Museum to develop the National Museum Complex within and adjacent to Rizal Park and other identified areas with reference to the Burnham Plan for Manila of 1905, to include such institutional exigencies as public exhibition, activity and function halls, office and operational spaces, museological and technical facilities, premises for commercial operations, vehicular parking, integrative infrastructure for its constituent buildings, parks and green areas, and other kinds of public spaces.
The museum shall also implement a design for a large public plaza and park fronting the former Legislative Building, integrating it with Intramuros as a National Cultural Treasure and exposing features of the wall and former moat in this area.
Within one year after the effectivity of the measure, the National Museum shall formulate a master plan, which shall be approved by the Board of Trustees and shall be financed by the proceeds from its Endowment Fund and other allowable sources of funds.
The central museums of the National Museum shall include the existing National Museum of Fine Arts, National Museum of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, and the National Planetarium.
The National Museum shall further work towards the establishment of central museums dedicated to archaeology, maritime and underwater cultural heritage, architectural arts and built heritage and political and social history.
Moreover, the National Museum shall be governed by a Board of Trustees.
Among the functions and powers of the board are to represent and mobilize pertinent areas of the private sector and the public sector in support of the mission and aims of the National Museum; serve as the appointing authority for the Head of Agency and Agency Management; and approve strategic goals, policies, and directions for the National Museum.
The National Museum shall retain the entirety of its income from all sources of its operations nationwide and overseas and expend the same for any purpose for the benefit of the National Museum, as may be authorized by the Board of Trustees.
Such income shall be placed in a dedicated National Museum Income Fund and may accumulate for disbursement in future fiscal years if not expended within the fiscal year in which it was generated.
The existing Revolving Fund of the National Museum shall be abolished, and its balance shall be transferred to the National Museum Income Fund established by the Act.
Donations from visitors, which the museum is authorized to accept, shall be considered gratuities and placed in a dedicated National Museum Donations Fund.
Meanwhile, the existing Museum Endowment Fund shall be renamed the National Museum Endowment Fund.
The fund shall be sourced from the P250 million annual net earnings of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office from its lotto operation and P250 million from the annual net earnings of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.
The National Museum Endowment Fund shall continue to be utilized for implementation of special programs, projects, and activities approved by the Board.