I rise to express my full support for Senate Bill No. 1529, An Act Strengthening the National Museum of the Philippines, Repealing for the Purpose Republic Act No. 8492, Otherwise Known as the National Museum Act of 1998, and appropriating funds therefor.
In the 16 years since the National Museum Act of 1998 (Republic Act No. 8492) was approved by President Fidel V. Ramos, the National Museum as the Philippines' preeminent universal museum institution has made great strides in realizing the legislative intention embodied in that landmark statute. It was established as the country's primary museum, tasked to acquire documents, preserve, exhibit, and foster scholarly study and appreciation of works of art specimens, cultural and historical artifacts, and material evidence of the human form and the human environment. It must also endeavor to inform the general public about these activities for the purpose of 'study, education and entertainment'.
However, various factors have been identified as constraining the National Museum from being as effective as it might be, and from keeping pace with the evolving nature of similar museum institutions around the world.
Amidst the changes being undertaken by the National Museum now to improve its existing collections and redevelop its facilities, this bill seeks to build upon the National Museum Act of 1998, and replace it with a more comprehensive charter.
The salient features of this bill are as follows:
Clarification of the functions and organization of its Board of Trustees, and expansion of its membership;
Strengthening of management by upgrading and expanding management positions to better oversee the operations of the National Museum, particularly in the regions;
Consolidation and enlargement of the National Museum Complex in Rizal Park, Manila by further appropriating to it for its exclusive development and use public lands between or contiguous with its existing buildings, dedicating the entire complex to Dr. Jose Rizal, and prescribing the formulation of a master plan for the same, with the purpose of establishing a large and cohesive cultural, educational and recreational precinct;
Full retention of the income of the National Museum from all sources generated by virtue of its operations, the authority to accept anonymous donations from visitors as gratuities as well as prescribe a schedule of recommended donations in lieu of admission fees, which shall not be charged, and greater clarification regarding the disposition of income and donated funds, in order that these be primarily and flexibly applied towards the purchase of needed equipment and collections items;
Treatment of procurement of items by the National Museum for its collections, such as works of art and archaeological artifacts, as a unique and special case to be governed by prescribed procedures, as existing procurement laws, rules and regulations do not provide an adequate framework for this specific purpose;
Explicit authorization to engage in commercial operations appropriate to a museum institution for purposes of revenue generation and enhanced services to visitors and the general public, such as the rental of dedicated event and function spaces, the lease of dedicated areas for the erection and operation of commercial establishments, including vehicular parking, and the production and/or licensing of official merchandise;
Establishment of tax incentives for donations of items to the National Museum for its collections, in order to facilitate and encourage more numerous donations, particularly of items that are considered to be of national significance and those considered as Important Cultural Properties and/or National Cultural Treasures under existing laws; and
The transfer of all regulatory functions to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, and from there to the future Department of Culture, to enable the National Museum to focus exclusively on its operations and services as the premier museum institution and repository of the country, and to improve governance by removing conflicts of interest between the Agency's present mandate as both a collecting and regulatory institution.
In conclusion, the aim of this bill is to give the National Museum a clearer, updated and stronger charter to facilitate the fuller realization of its longstanding mandate and potential, which does even better justice to the artistic, cultural and natural heritage and patrimony of the Filipino people throughout the entire country, and of which we can be rightfully proud as a leading museum institution regionally and worldwide.
For the aforesaid reasons, I thus enjoin my colleagues of this august chamber to support this measure.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Source: Senate of the Philippines