Heritage advocates are pushing for a heritage conservation incentives bill that would encourage owners of heritage properties to conserve their buildings and houses.
“For heritage conservation to be successful, there have to be incentives for these owners to conserve their structures,” Heritage Conservation Society (HCS) President Ivan Anthony Henares told The Manila Times during the group’s General Assembly in Pasay.
The HCS is advocating the protection and preservation of built heritage, cultural, and historical sites and settings, in line with the stipulation in the Philippine Constitution that heritage and culture should be developed and preserved for national identity.
Tax incentives sought
“One thing that we’ve been pushing for is, number one, real estate tax incentives.
They can be exemptions or discounts depending on the locality. Because many building owners are home owners who are not earning from these structures and we ask them to preserve their structures, it’s very important that the incentive there is to grant them exemptions or discounts from real estate tax,” Henares said.
“Second, one reason why we lose a lot of heritage houses is because of inheritance.
When you inherit a house from your parents, for example, you are required to pay taxes,” he said.
Henares said that those heritage houses which are passed from one generation to another may be put up for sale because there may be heirs who may not have the cash to pay for estate tax, and as a result are forced to sell the house to pay for the taxes.
“If we exempt heritage properties from estate taxes, from inheritance taxes, we encourage families to keep their history intact. We encourage families to make sure that their heritage is still within the family. So that’s the second incentive that we are pushing for,” he added.
Henares cited the El Hogar Filipino building which was sold because the family that previously owned it was losing money due to the real estate taxes.
“So imagine if we were able to give them incentives on real estate taxes it might have been kept within the family and the family would have preserved it most definitely,” Henares said.
“And then third, we want to give incentives to businesses, business establishments, entrepreneurs who choose to locate their businesses in heritage buildings or heritage properties. I think they should be given a reason to locate in old buildings,” he added.
“These are just a few of the incentives that we want to push for but definitely this will go a long way in protecting our cultural heritage, our history. It will go a long way in creating effective heritage laws,” he said.
“We’ve already talked to members of Congress, who have signified that they are willing to sponsor our proposed bill. But of course the more people who will support this measure, the better for us,” he added.
Good for business
Meanwhile, International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) Philippines President and HCS member Architect Dominic Galicia told The Manila Times that, “For businesses interested in branding, businesses interested in projecting a constructive image of themselves, few things are as helpful in contributing to that positive image as heritage is. So that’s one way that heritage can contribute to the benevolent and benign image that the business would like to project to the rest of the community.”
ICOMOS is an international non-governmental organization of professionals, dedicated to the conservation of the world’s historic monuments and sites.
“Heritage is also good for business because it’s already working with an existing resource instead of leaning to create something new and using economic means to create something new, heritage is already something that’s there. It’s really a matter of businesses being resourceful, being efficient economically, and using resources that are already existent,” Galicia said.
“In the long run, what’s good for the community is good for business. What’s best for business is a win-win kind of attitude. If you do something that’s good for the community, eventually it would be for the good of the business. I mean it just like people. You, as an individual, if you live for others, eventually it ends up being good for you also. Somehow the cosmic arrangement of things sort of make this happen.
So in the same way, if businesses do something good for the community and heritage is a manifestation of the community, eventually, that will reward businesses,” he said.