Senate Bill 1528, or the proposed 'Department of Culture Act," is sponsored and authored by Senator Francis Escudero, chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture.
Apart from Escudero, the bill is also authored by Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senators Loren Legarda, Nancy Binay, Bam Aquino IV, JV Ejercito, Joel Villanueva, Sherwin Gatchalian, Risa Hontiveros, and Sonny Angara.
"The passage of this bill will further nurture and preserve our Filipino heritage by enhancing the agency's mandate and giving it more authority in implementing the programs that will promote the importance of the Philippine arts and culture," Escudero said in a news release Wednesday.
The bill, now on second reading, proposes to reorganize the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) into an independent Department of Culture "which will promote and develop the country's cultural traditions."
Escudero said the proposed department with its attached agencies shall be responsible for the "protection, preservation, regulation, development, management, dissemination and promotion of the cultural, historical and artistic heritage and resources, tangible and intangible, of the Philippines and the Filipino people."
Under the bill, 12 agencies will be attached to the Department of Culture - Cultural Center of the Philippines, National Museum of the Philippines, National Historical Commission of the Philippines, National Library of the Philippines, National Archives of the Philippines, Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino, Intramuros Administration, National Parks Development Committee, Nayong Filipino Foundation, Film Development Council of the Philippines, National Book Development Board and Design Center of the Philippines.
Escudero said the bill also calls for policy reforms, such as the establishment of "Rizal Centers" or cultural hubs that will provide Filipinos access to cultural resources within the country and abroad "for the benefit of the global diaspora of Philippine citizens."
He also said the proposed department will be headed by a Secretary, who will be joined by at least three undersecretaries and five assistant secretaries.
Escudero added that should the bill become a law, the initial funding for the Department of Culture will come from the current fiscal year's appropriation for the NCCA through the Office of the President.
However, subsequent budgetary appropriations - which will not be less than PHP2 billion - will be included in the national budget for the upcoming years.