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Vatican and Philippines sign agreement to save heritage churches

 The Philippine government and the Vatican ratified an agreement for the preservation of at least 35 Catholic churches in the country on May 29. The churches are four baroque churches that are considered heritage sites and 26 Spanish colonial churches that are considered national treasures. These include the San Agustin church in Intramuros, Paoay and Bacarra churches in Ilocos Norte, and the Oslob church in Cebu. The agreement is vital to the preservation and protection of the Filipinos' evangelization and culture, said Papal Nuncio in the Philippines, Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams. The bilateral agreement was ratified at the Department of Foreign Affairs with Adams and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo exchanging instruments of ratification. Pope Benedict XVI and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had signed the agreement. Also part of the accord is the implementation of measures on the regulation of Church properties through property inventory, restoration, anti-trafficking, custody and security, archiving and promotion of tourism in the heritage sites. But, the treaty does not involve financial support from the Vatican. The Philippine government will help with research and funding. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines and the National Commission on Culture and the Arts will implement the agreement.