RA 10066 – National Cultural Heritage Act

Fourteenth Congress
Third Regular Session


Begun and held in Metro Manila, on Monday, the twenty-seventh day of July, two thousand nine.


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:

Section 1. Short Title. – This Act shall be known as the “National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009”.


Section 2. Declaration of Principles and Policies. – Sections 14, 15, 16 and 17, Article XIV of the 1987 Constitution declare that the State shall foster the preservation, enrichment and dynamic evolution of a Filipino culture based on the principle of unity in diversity in a climate of free artistic and intellectual expression. The Constitution likewise mandates the State to conserve, develop, promote and popularize the nation’s historical and cultural heritage and resources, as well as artistic creations. It further provides that all the country’s artistic and historic wealth constitutes the cultural treasure of the nation and shall be under the protection of the State, which may regulate its disposition.

In the pursuit of cultural preservation as a strategy for maintaining Filipino identity, this Act shall pursue the following objectives:

(a)Protect, preserve, conserve and promote the nation’s cultural heritage, its property and histories, and the ethnicity of local communities;

(b)Establish and strengthen cultural institutions; and

(c)Protect cultural workers and ensure their professional development and well-being.

The State shall likewise endeavor to create a balanced atmosphere where the historic past coexists in harmony with modern society. It shall approach the problem of conservation in an integrated and holistic manner, cutting across all relevant disciplines and technologies. The State shall further administer the heritage resources in a spirit of stewardship for the inspiration and benefit of the present and future generations.


Section 3. Definition of Terms. – For purposes of this Act, the following terms shall be defined as follows:

(a) “Adaptive reuse” shall refer to the utilization of buildings, other built-structures and sites of value for purposes other than that for which they were intended originally, in order to conserve the site, their engineering integrity and authenticity of design.

(b) “Anthropological area” shall refer to any place where studies of specific ethno-linguistic groups are undertaken, the properties of which are of value to our cultural heritage.

(c) “Antique” shall refer to a cultural property found locally which is one hundred (100) years in age, more or less, the production of which has ceased.

(d) “Archaeological area” shall refer to any place, whether above or under ground, underwater or at sea level, containing fossils, artifacts and other cultural, geological, botanical, zoological materials which depict and document culturally relevant paleontological, prehistoric and/or historic events.

(e) “Archives” shall refer to public and private records in any format which have been selected for permanent preservation because of their evidential, historical informational value; otherwise known as archival materials collections or archival holdings; the place (building/room/storage area) where archival materials are kept and preserved; and an organization or agency or part thereof whose main responsibility is to appraise, arrange, describe, conserve, promote and make archival materials available for reference and research, also known as archival agency.

(f) “Built heritage” shall refer to architectural and engineering structures such as, but not limited to, bridges, government buildings, houses of ancestry, traditional dwellings, quartels, train stations, lighthouses, small ports, educational, technological and industrial complexes, and their settings, and landscapes with notable historical and cultural significance.

(g) “Collector” shall refer to any person who or institution that acquires cultural property for purposes other than sale.

(h) “Commission” shall refer to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

(i) “Conservation” shall refer to all the processes and measures of maintaining the cultural significance of a cultural property including, but not limited to, preservation, restoration, reconstruction, protection, adaptation or any combination thereof.

(j) “Cultural agencies” shall refer to the following national government agencies with their specific areas of responsibility: National Museum (cultural property); the National Library (books); National Historical Institute (Philippine history); National Archives (documents); Cultural Center of the Philippines (culture and the arts); and Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (language).

(k) “Cultural education” shall refer to the teaching and learning of cultural concepts and processes.

(l) “Cultural heritage” shall refer to the totality of cultural property preserved and developed through time and passed on to posterity.

(m) “Cultural heritage worker” shall refer to an individual undertaking cultural heritage work.

(n) “Cultural institution” shall refer to entities engaged primarily in cultural work.

(o) “Cultural property” shall refer to all products of human creativity by which a people and a nation reveal their identity, including churches, mosques and other places of religious worship, schools and natural history specimens and sites, whether public or privately-owned, movable or immovable, and tangible or intangible.

(p) “Dealers” shall refer to natural or juridical persons who acquire cultural property for the purpose of engaging in the acquisition and disposition of the same.

(q) “Heritage zone” shall refer to historical, anthropological, archaeological, artistic geographical areas and settings that are culturally significant to the country, as declared hy the National Museum and/or the National Historical Institute.

(r) “History” shall refer to a written record of past events relating to Philippine history.

(s) “Historical landmarks” shall refer to sites or structures that are associated with events or achievements significant to Philippine history as declared by the National Historical Institute.

(t) “Historical monuments” shall refer to structures that honor illustrious persons or commemorate events of historical value as declared by the National Historical Institute.

(u) “Historical shrines” shall refer to historical sites or structures hallowed and revered for their history or association as declared by the National Historical Institute.

(v) “Historical street name” shall refer to a street name which has been in existence for at least fifty (50) years and over time has been considered historic.

(w) “Important cultural property” shall refer to a cultural property having exceptional cultural, artistic and historical significance to the Philippines, as shall be determined by the National Museum and/or National Historical Institute.

(x) “Intangible cultural heritage” shall refer to the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills, as well as the instruments, objects and artifacts associated therewith, that communities, groups and individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage, such as: (1) oral traditions, languages and expressions; (2) performing arts; (3) social practices, rituals and festive events; (4) knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe; and (5) traditional craftsmanship.

(y) “Intangible cultural property” shall refer to the peoples’ learned processes along with the knowledge, skills and creativity that inform and are developed by them, the products they create and the resources, spaces and other aspects of social and natural context necessary for their sustainability.

(z) “Library” shall refer to an institution where the collection of books, manuscripts, computerized information and other materials are organized to provide physical, bibliographic and/or intellectual access to the public, with a librarian that is trained to provide services and programs related to the information needs of its clientele.

(aa) “Museum” shall refer to a permanent institution that researches, acquires, conserves, communicates and exhibits the material evidence of humans and their environment for purposes of education or leisure.

(bb) “National cultural treasure” shall refer to a unique cultural property found locally, possessing outstanding historical, cultural, artistic and/or scientific value which is highly significant and important to the country and nation, and officially declared as such by pertinent cultural agency.

(cc) “Nationally significant” shall refer to historical, aesthetic, scientific, technical, social and/or spiritual values that unify the nation by a deep sense of pride in their various yet common identities, cultural heritage and national patrimony.

(dd) “Natural property of cultural significance” shall refer to areas possessing outstanding ecosystem with flora and fauna of national scientific importance under the National Integrated Protected Areas System.

(ee) “NCCA Portal Cultural Databank” refers to the specific domain in the Commission’s intranet for cultural information that is accessed only internally with control and confidentiality. It includes the registry of national cultural property.

(ff) “Prehistory” shall refer to the period of human history before the introduction of the forms of writing.

(gg) “Registry” shall refer to the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property which is the registry of all cultural property of the country deemed of significant importance to our cultural heritage.

(hh) “Restoration” shall refer to the action taken or the technical intervention to correct deterioration and alterations.

(ii) “Tangible cultural property” shall refer to a cultural property with historical, archival, anthropological, archaeological, artistic and architectural value, and with exceptional or traditional production, whether of Philippine origin or not, including antiques and natural history specimens with significant value.


Section 4. Categories. – The cultural property of the country shall be categorized as follows:

(a)National cultural treasures;

(b)Important cultural property;

(c)World heritage sites;

(d)National historical shrine;

(e)National historical monument; and

(f)National historical landmark.

Section 5. Cultural Property Considered Important Cultural Property. – For purposes of protecting a cultural property against exportation, modification or demolition, the following works shall be considered important cultural property, unless declared otherwise by the pertinent cultural agency:

Unless declared by the Commission,

(a)Works by a Manlilikha ng Bayan;

(b)Works by a National Artist;

Unless declared by the National Museum,

(c)Archaeological and traditional ethnographic materials;

Unless declared by the National Historical Institute,

(d)Works of national heroes;

(e)Marked structure;

(f)Structures dating at least fifty (50) years old; and

Unless declared by the National Archives,

(g)Archival material/document dating at least fifty (50) years old.

The property owner may petition the appropriate cultural agency to remove the presumption of important cultural property which shall not be unreasonably withheld.

Section 6. World Heritage Sites. – The appropriate cultural agency shall closely collaborate with the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) National Commission of the Philippines in ensuring the conservation and management of world heritage sites, of cultural and mixed sites category, in the Philippines.

Section 7. Privileges for Cultural Property. – All cultural properties declared as national cultural treasures and national historical landmarks, sites or monuments shall be entitled to the following privileges:

(a)Priority government funding for protection, conservation and restoration;

(b)Incentive for private support of conservation and restoration through the Commission’s Conservation Incentive Program for national cultural treasures;

(c)An official heritage marker placed by the cultural agency concerned indicating that the immovable cultural property has been identified as national cultural treasures and/or national historical landmarks, sites or monuments; and

(d)In times of armed conflict, natural disasters and other exceptional events that endanger the cultural heritage of the country, all national cultural treasures or national historical landmarks, sites or monuments shall be given priority protection by the government.

All cultural properties declared as important cultural property may also receive government funding for its protection, conservation and restoration. An official heritage marker shall likewise be placed on an immovable cultural property to identify the same as important cultural property.

Section 8. Procedure for Declaration, or Delisting of National Cultural Treasures or Important Cultural Property. – The procedure in declaring as well as in delisting a national cultural property or an important cultural property shall be as follows:

(a)A declaration or a delisting of a cultural property as a national cultural treasure or an important cultural property shall commence upon the filing of a petition by the owner, stakeholder or any interested person, with the Commission, which shall refer the matter to the appropriate cultural agency;

(b)Upon verification of the suitability of the property as a national cultural treasure or an important cultural property, the cultural agency concerned shall send notice of hearing to the owner and stakeholders. Stakeholders including, but not limited to, local government units, local culture and arts council, local tourism councils, nongovernment conservation organizations, and schools, may be allowed to file their support or opposition to the petition;

(c)The owner and/or other stakeholders shall file their position paper within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the notice of hearing, furnishing all the parties, including the appropriate cultural agency, with such position paper. Extensions may be allowed, but in no case shall it exceed more than thirty (30) days;

(d)The petitioner/stakeholder shall give their answer within fifteen (15) days upon receipt of any position paper. Thereafter, no further submissions shall be allowed; and

(e)The appropriate cultural agency shall have a maximum of ninety (90) days from the deadline of the submission of all the answers within which to submit its resolution and render its decision on the application.

Section 9. Right of First Refusal on the Sale of National Cultural Treasures. – The appropriate cultural agency shall be given the right of first refusal in the purchase of cultural properties declared as national cultural property. Prior to the finality of the sale, the appropriate cultural agency may likewise match any offer made for the purchase of national cultural property.

Section 10. Licensing of Dealers of Cultural Property. – All dealers of cultural property shall secure a license to operate as such from the appropriate cultural agency concerned. They shall submit a quarterly inventory of items carried which shall include a history of each item. Failure to submit two (2) consecutive inventories shall be a ground for cancellation of the license. All dealers of cultural property shall be subject to inspection by the concerned cultural agencies.

The cultural agencies may charge and collect fees for registration as well as for licenses, inspections, certifications, authorizations and permits that they issue and undertake in connection with the implementation of this Act. Funds generated from these collections by cultural agencies shall be retained by the cultural agency concerned for its operations.

Section 11. Dealings of Cultural Property. – No cultural property shall be sold, resold or taken out of the country without first securing a clearance from the cultural agency concerned. In case the property shall be taken out of the country, it shall solely be for the purpose of scientific scrutiny or exhibit.


Section 12. Designation of Heritage Zones. – The National Historical Institute and the National Museum, in consultation with the Commission and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board or other concerned agencies, shall designate heritage zones to protect the historical and cultural integrity of a geographical area.

Section 13. Maintenance of Heritage Zones. – A heritage zone shall be maintained by the local government unit concerned, in accordance with the following guidelines:

(a)Implementation of adaptive reuse of cultural property;

(b)Appearance of streets, parks, monuments, buildings, and natural bodies of water, canals, paths and barangays within a locality shall be maintained as close to their appearance at the time the area was of most importance to Philippine history as determined by the National Historical Institute; and

(c)Local government units shall document and sustain all sociocultural practices such as, but not limited to, traditional celebrations, historical battles, recreation of customs, and the reenactment of battles and other local customs that are unique to a locality.


Section 14. Establishment of a Philippine Registry of Cultural Property. – All cultural properties of the country deemed important to cultural heritage shall be registered in the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property.

The Commission, through the appropriate cultural agencies and local government units, shall establish and maintain this Registry within three (3) years from the effectivity of this Act. The guidelines in the registration of cultural property are as follows:

(a)All cultural agencies concerned shall individually maintain an inventory, evaluation and documentation of all cultural properties declared according to their category and shall submit the same to the Commission. For cultural property declared as immovable cultural property, the appropriate cultural agency shall, after registration, give due notice to the concerned Registry of Deeds for annotation on the land titles pertaining to the same;

(b)Local government units, through their cultural offices, shall likewise maintain an inventory of cultural property under its jurisdiction and shall furnish the Commission a copy of the same;

(c)Both cultural agencies concerned and local government units shall continuously coordinate in making entries and in monitoring the various cultural properties in their respective inventory;

(d)All government agencies and instrumentalities, government-owned and/or -controlled corporations and their subsidiaries, including public and private educational institutions, shall report their ownership and/or possession of such items to the pertinent cultural agency and shall register such properties within three (3) years from the effectivity of this Act;

(e)Private collectors and owners of cultural property shall register such properties within three (3) years from the effectivity of this Act. The private collectors and owners of cultural property shall not be divested of their possession and ownership thereof even after registration of said property as herein required.

Information on registered cultural properties owned by private individuals shall remain confidential and may be given only upon prior consent of the private owner. The Commission shall operate the Registry in the NCCA portal cultural databank.

Section 15. Conservation of Cultural Property. – All intervention works and measures on conservation of national cultural treasures, important cultural property, as well as national historical landmarks, sites or monuments and structures previously marked by the National Museum and/or the National Historical Institute before the implementation of this Act, shall be undertaken through the appropriate cultural agency which shall supervise the same.

The appropriate cultural agency shall approve only those methods and materials that strictly adhere to the accepted international standards of conservation.

Section 16. Documentation and Preservation of Traditional and Contemporary Arts. – Local government units shall document traditional and contemporary arts and crafts, including their processes and makers, and sustain the sources of their raw materials. Local government units shall encourage and sustain traditional arts and crafts as active and viable sources of income for the community.

The Commission, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Tourism and other government agencies involved directly or indirectly in the production of goods shall assist the local government units in protecting their traditional and contemporary arts and crafts, making them viable for current and future markets, with a view to encouraging and promoting the unique heritage and identities of said communities.

The local government unit concerned shall submit an annual inventory of these documentations to the Commission, which will be included in the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property, as established in Section 14 of this Act.

Section 17. Systematic Research in Natural History. – The National Museum shall have the authority to collect, maintain and develop the national reference collections of Philippine flora and fauna, rocks and minerals through research and field collection of specimens including important cultural property within the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines. It shall be exempt from any and all permit systems regulating the same.

The National Museum shall inform the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture of such collection. All types of specimen collected in the Philippine territory shall be deposited in the National Museum.

Section 18. Heritage Agreements. – The Commission, upon advice of the concerned cultural agency, may enter into agreements with private owners of cultural properties with regard to the preservation of said properties.

Such agreement shall be in the form of a contract and may include such terms and conditions including, but not limited to:

(a)Public access to the property;

(b)Value of the encumbrance;

(c)Duration of the servitude of the property;

(d)Restriction of the right of the owner or occupant to perform acts on or near the place;

(e)Maintenance and management of the property;

(f)Provision of financial assistance for the conservation of the property; and

(g)Procedure for the resolution of any dispute arising out of the agreement.

Such agreement should be annotated in the land title to bind future owners and/or occupants of the immovable cultural property.

Section 19. National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage. – The appropriate cultural agency shall closely collaborate with the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in the Philippines. The Philippine Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee established by the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines shall continue to take the lead role in implementing the provisions of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, with particular attention to Articles 11 to 15 of the said Convention.

Section 20. Immovable National Cultural Treasures. – Immovable national cultural treasures shall not be relocated, rebuilt, defaced or otherwise changed in a manner, which would destroy the property’s dignity and authenticity, except to save such property from destruction due to natural causes.

The site referred to in this provision may only be moved after securing a permit from the Commission or the appropriate cultural agency.

Section 21. Indigenous Properties. – The appropriate cultural agency, in consultation with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, shall establish a program and promulgate regulations to assist indigenous people in preserving their particular cultural and historical properties.

Section 22. Renaming of Historical Streets, Buildings Designated as Cultural Treasure or Important Cultural Property. – The names of historical streets, parks, buildings, shrines, landmarks, monuments and sites designated as national cultural treasures or important cultural property shall not be allowed to be renamed by a local or national legislation, unless approved by the National Historical Institute, and only after due hearing on the matter. Furthermore, for changes of names done to historical streets, parks, buildings, shrines, landmarks, monuments, and sites prior to the effectivity of this Act, the National Historical Institute may direct the local government units to restore their original names, also after due hearing.