EDITORIAL| The old Court of First Instance Building as heritage site

THE DAVAO Historical Society has called on the city to preserve the old Court of First Instance building which is home to the Museo Dabawenyo for more than a decade. The city is planning to build a museum inside the People’s Park in the coming months.

In a letter, the society’s chair Pilar Braga reminisced that “Nanay Soledad “Soling” Roa Duterte, chose the old Court of First Instance building as the home of the Museo Dabawenyo, she envisioned it to be declared as a heritage site and preserved as a model of old Davao architecture. Even when it was more cost effective to demolish the old structure to build a new one from scratch, Nanay Soling insisted that the old building design be preserved for future generations and old building materials be reused for authenticity.

“Many concerned Davao residents supported her by generously donating money and artifacts to make that vision a reality. Such is her passion for preserving Davao’s historical, architectural and cultural heritage for the younger generation and she has tasked the Davao Historical Society, which sits on the Board of the Museo Dabawenyo, to continue her advocacy and preserve her legacy before she passed on.

“Aside from preserving its architectural heritage, the old Court of First Instance building is very significant to Davao’s historical narrative, notably the martial law years when Davao was known as the “Killing fields” being then the laboratory for the urban guerilla warfare of the New People’s Army. Our first Davaoeño and Mindanawon President and longest-serving City Mayor, Rodrigo Roa Duterte, tried his landmark cases as a prosecutor in that building.

“Our current Cabinet Secretary, Leoncio Evasco, Jr. was tried and acquitted of rebellion charges in that building as well. Our iconic human rights lawyers from Davao  Laurente Ilagan, Marcos Risonar, Antonio Arellano, Silvestre H. Bello III – have fought for justice in those halls. We believe it will help history come alive for the younger generation if they can see and experience the actual building where it happened. It will also serve as a symbol of Davao’s rich tradition of pursuing truth, freedom, justice, and peace.”

Councilor Braga appealed to Mayor Sara to grant the request of the Davao Historical Society to preserve and declare the old Court of First Instance building as a heritage site and to allow the building to be used as a space for the promotion of Davao history and culture.

Posted in Opinion