The House Committee on Tourism has passed a measure seeking to declare the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians in Parañaque City as a tourist destination.
House Bill No. 5779, principally authored by Parañaque 2nd District Rep. Joy Myra Tambunting was among the 24 bills passed by the House panel during its virtual meeting Wednesday.
The House panel, chaired by Laguna 3rd District Rep. Sol Aragones gave in to the motion made by Baguio Lone District Rep. Mark Go calling for the omnibus approval of the 24 tourism bills.
In her sponsorship speech, Tambunting cited that the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians "has been a rallying point and source of inspiration to both parishioners and devotees of Mary, Help of Christians."
She noted that in June 1975, Jaime Cardinal Sin, Archbishop of Manila, created the Parish of Mary Help of Christians. It was inaugurated on July 24, 1975 and solemnly consecrated on Dec. 4, 1976 during the Silver Jubilee Year celebrations of Salesians presence in the Philippines, she said.
“It was a decade after, in 1985, when the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines gave the church the title of a National Shrine. For years now, the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians is considered to be one of attractions in Parañaque City, which is visited by numerous pilgrims, devotees and tourists yearly,” she said.
HB 5779 seeks to declare the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians, located in Barangay Don Bosco, Parañaque City as tourist destination.
The measure mandates the Department of Tourism (DOT) and its attached agencies, in coordination with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) "to prepare a comprehensive tourism development plan to improve the overall features of the area surrounding the National Shrine and ensure its accessibility and the security of the tourists,” Tambunting said.
She sought the passage of the measure on behalf of her constituents and “for the common good of the Filipino people.”
HB 5779 mandates the DOT, in coordination with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and other concerned agencies to prioritize the Shrine’s development subject to the rules and regulations governing the development of heritage site and tourist destinations.
Within one year after the approval of the proposed Act, the DOT, in coordination with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is mandated to prepare a tourism development plan involving the construction, installation and maintenance of facilities and infrastructure that shall improve the overall features of the area surrounding the National Shrine, thereby ensuring its accessibility and the security of the faithful and tourists.
The development plan shall ensure the preservation and conservation of the historical significance of the area, the bill provides.
The DOT and its concerned attached agencies shall take immediate steps to implement the appropriate tourist development plan for the National Shrine.
Under Tambuting’s bill, the Secretary of the DOT shall include in the Department’s program the implementation of the proposed Act, the funding of which shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act and internally generated funds of the DOT.
Within 60 days from the effectivity of the proposed Act, the DOT, in consultation with the local government unit of Parañaque City, shall issue the rules and regulations for the proper implementation of the proposed Act, the bill said.