THE DEPARTMENT of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday ordered the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) to fast-track the probe of the recent fire that razed the Manila Central Post Office on Sunday evening.
“I am calling on the BFP to prioritize the investigation of the Manila Central Post Office fire and exhaust all means necessary to find out the cause of this incident that destroyed one of the country’s architectural heritage and national historical landmarks,” Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin C. Abalos, Jr. said in a statement.
“We must get to the bottom of this unfortunate incident at all costs and at the soonest possible time.”
The fire, which started just before midnight on Sunday, caused more than P300 million in damage, Manila Mayor Maria Sheilah Lacuna–Pangan told an online news briefing on Monday.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said some of the national IDs that were due for delivery in Manila had been damaged by the fire.
In a separate statement on Wednesday, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) said the post office is insured for P604 million, and gave assurance that the agency would assist in its restoration.
“The building has been declared an Important Cultural Property by the National Museum of the Philippines and its loss will have a huge impact on our rich cultural heritage,” GSIS Chief Jose Arnulfo “Wick” A. Veloso said.
“We need to bring it back to its original splendor.”
He added that his agency already sent personnel to the site to facilitate the insurance claim, adding that the GSIS will offer its warehouse in Pasig City to serve as the Philippine Postal Corp.’s temporary headquarters.
The National Museum declared the country’s oldest post office in 2018 as an important cultural property. The label is given to properties with “exceptional cultural, artistic, and/or historical significance” to the country.
It is the second-highest level of protection next to the national cultural treasure, which is given by the National Museum and National Historical Commission of the Philippines.
The post office was rebuilt in 1946 after it was severely damaged during World War II. — John Victor D. Ordoñez