Saturday, September 29, 2012

CEBU urge Manila Govt Cybercrime law 2012 Amend or Reject

CEBU CITY : Starting next week, Particularly October 3, 2012, a law that was intended to stop child pornography and cybersex will take effect. But it will also mean strict penalties for those who commit libel on the Internet.

 

The Cebu Citizens Press Council (CCPC) "strongly and earnestly" asked President Benigno Aquino III and Congress to review the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, which was signed earlier this month.

 

The council recommended amendments to "objectionable provisions" in Republic Act 101751, especially those on Internet libel and the power of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to shut down websites without the need for a court order.

 

"The provision on Internet libel under the new law violates the constitutional guarantee of free speech and free press, due process of law, and equal protection of the law, aside from being unclear about innocent participants in the conversation on the web," the CCPC resolution said.

 

Lapses of the Cybercrime 2012 law

 

At least five other groups, representing lawyers, bloggers and journalists, have already questioned the law before the Supreme Court.

 

The new law imposes penalties for "the unlawful or prohibited acts of libel as defined in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future."

 

In its resolution, the CCPC said that the law fails to clearly define Internet libel, "a serious omission since Internet libel, given the technology's peculiarities, is different from other kinds of libel."

 

The resolution, which was certified correct by CCPC Executive Director Pachico A. Seares, was adopted and approved last September 28. Seares is also the public and standards editor of Sun.Star Cebu.

 

The CCPC is a 15-member council that includes six representatives from the public, two from the academe, two from the broadcast industry, and five newspaper editors representing each of Cebu's English and Bisaya dailies.

 

In its resolution, the CCPC said that the law "inexplicably also increases the penalty for computer-related libel."

 

Double Jeopardy penalties

 

The Revised Penal Code imposes six months and a day up to six years in jail; or a fine of P200 to P6,000; or both penalties for a libel conviction.

 

But the Cybercrime Prevention Act provides for a penalty one degree higher, meaning six to 12 years in jail, in addition to the other penalties.

 

"It is oppressive and discriminatory as it makes Internet libel a bigger crime than print or broadcast libel. A complainant would use the law, instead of the Revised Penal Code, to go after a journalist whose work is also published online," the CCPC resolution stated.

 

The Revised Penal Code defines libel as "a public and malicious imputation of a crime, vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead."

 

The CCPC had also passed a resolution on March 24, 2008 urging Congress to retain libel as a crime, but to remove the jail sentence as penalty, "which would temper the law's harshness without losing accountability."

 

Excesses

 

This week, it suggested that Congress hold more public hearings, if necessary, so that bloggers, journalists, media organizations, other users of the Internet and technical groups that have studied the Internet can weigh in on the Internet libel provision.

 

In a recent interview with GMA News, deputy director Luis Teodoro of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility said the Internet libel proviso could be used to harass bloggers and other users of the Internet.

 

The House version of the Cybercrime Prevention Act, whose principal authors included Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, does not have a provision on Internet libel. This was introduced in the Senate.

 

The CCPC resolution said it "agrees with the need to curb excesses in the social media, as it is regulated in mainstream media."

 

"But the law on Internet libel must be so crafted as to consider the unique attributes of the platform or vehicle, not only to balance right to free speech against right to protect one's integrity and privacy, but also to assure enforcement in the new media," the council said.


Sun Star Cebu

Philippine Cybercrime Law: Police are allowed to watch people' private Skype Yahoo FB video conversation

A new cybercrime law in the Philippines that could see people sentenced to 12 years in jail for posting defamatory comments on Facebook or Twitter is generating outrage among netizens and rights groups.

 

The stated aim of the cybercrime law is to fight online pornography, hacking, identity theft and spamming in the conservative Catholic nation amid police complaints they lack the legal tools to stamp out Internet crime.

 

However it also includes a blanket provision that puts the country's criminal libel law into force in cyberspace, except that the penalties for Internet defamation are much tougher compared with old media.

 

It also allows authorities to collect data from personal user accounts on social media and listen in on voice/video applications, such as Skype, without a warrant.

 

Teenagers unwarily retweeting or re-posting libelous material on social media could bear the full force of the law, according to Noemi Dado, a prominent Manila blogger who edits a citizen media site called Blog Watch.

 

"Not everyone is an expert on what constitutes libel. Imagine a mother like me, or teenagers and kids who love to rant. It really hits our freedoms," Dado told AFP.

 

Compounding the concerns, those teenagers or anyone else who posts a libellous comment faces a maximum prison term of 12 years and a fine of one million pesos ($24,000).

 

Meanwhile, newspaper editors and other trained professionals in traditional media face prison terms of just four years and fines of 6,000 pesos.

 

While harsh criminal libel legislation remains in force in other parts of Asia, Dado said the Philippine law sent the wrong signal in a country that overthrew the military-backed Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship just 26 years ago.

 

Dado, a lawyer's wife known in the local online community as the "momblogger", is among a group of bloggers and other critics of the libel element of the cybercrime law campaigning for it to be repealed.

 

Brad Adams, Asia director for New York-based Human Rights Watch, said the law was having a chilling effect in the Philippines, which has one of the world's highest per capita rates of Facebook and Twitter users.

 

"Anybody using popular social networks or who publishes online is now at risk of a long prison term should a reader -- including government officials -- bring a libel charge," Adams said.

 

About a third of the Philippines' nearly 100 million people use the Internet, with 96 percent them on Facebook, according to industry figures.

 

Five petitions claiming the law is unconstitutional have been filed with the Supreme Court.

 

Senator Teofisto Guingona, the lone opponent when the bill was voted on in the Senate, has filed one of the petitions to the Supreme Court.

 

"Without a clear definition of the crime of libel and the persons liable, virtually any person can now be charged with a crime -- even if you just re-tweet or comment on an online update or blog post," Guingona told the court.

 

"The questioned provisions... throw us back to the Dark Ages."

 

The five petitions all say the law infringes on freedom of expression, due process, equal protection and privacy of communication.

 

University of the Philippines law professor Harry Roque, who filed one of the petitions, said the Philippines was one of a shrinking number of countries where defamation remained a crime punishable by prison.

 

Part of the penal code that was drawn up 82 years ago, it goes against the trend in many advanced democracies such as the United States and Britain where defamation is now punished with fines rather than imprisonment, Roque said.

 

Amid the public backlash, some of the senators who voted for the cybercime law have started to disassociate themselves from it, even claiming they did not read the provision on libel.

 

However presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda has defended the cybercrime law.

 

"The Cybercrime Act sought to attach responsibilities in cyberspace.... freedom of expression is always recognised but freedom of expression is not absolute," he told reporters on Thursday.

 

Nevertheless, Lacierda said the law could still be refined.

 

He called for critics to submit their concerns to a government panel that will issue by the end of the year specific definitions of the law, such as who may be prosecuted.

 

Dailystar

Friday, September 28, 2012

USA upholds and provides advanced surveillance capabilities to the Philippine Territories

 

Because the Philippine constitution bans U.S. troops from direct combat, the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines plays mostly an advisory and training role in the battle against transnational terrorist groups.

 

But perhaps the most important U.S. military contribution has been advanced surveillance capabilities to track down terrorists in dense, remote jungle.

 

The high-tech equipment remains under U.S. control, according to Col. Mark Miller, the JSOTF-P commander.

When the Armed Forces of the Philippines requests information, Miller said, "we take their information requirements and we try to answer within whatever means we have over here in country."

 

That includes aerial surveillance, which provides full-motion video.

 

The high-tech gear has been used to locate terrorists, with the U.S. providing crucial information to Philippine ground forces in capturing or killing several high-ranking Abu Sayyaf leaders.

 

In one well-publicized case, a tracking device was planted in a backpack of supplies that was known to be heading to the group's main spokesman, Abu Sabaya. The device was used to guide the Philippine military to a boat as it was leaving land with Sabaya on board, and an aerial surveillance craft provided video of the ensuing clash at sea back to the presidential palace.

 

The AFP would like to have more hands-on access to surveillance equipment used by the U.S, said Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes, commander of the Western Mindanao Command, which covers most of the area in which the terrorist groups operate, such as the islands of Jolo and Basilan. They would ultimately like to possess advanced surveillance capabilities, he said.

 

While Miller empathized with Coballes' desire for so-called intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance equipment, he said it was not within his power to do so because that's a "bigger U.S. government decision on how they want to do that — if they're going to do that at all."

 

How long the U.S. military will remain in Mindanao to provide such surveillance remains uncertain.

 

"I can't say whether or not we're going to stay," Miller said. "Someone above me will make that decision."

 

Joy Yamamoto, the political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, said that the troops would "absolutely" leave Mindanao — "in the same way that eventually we will end providing development assistance."

 

Philippine troops will likely be working with more U.S. troops overall, however, as the two countries continue to conduct joint exercises.

 

Yamamoto said the U.S. has been in discussions with the Philippines about increasing the presence of American troops and equipment in the country and positioning supplies for humanitarian disaster relief.

 

There are no plans, however, to re-establish the likes of Clark Air Force Base or U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay, which once were linchpins in America's presence in Southeast Asia. Both closed in the early 1990s as a result of the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo and mounting Philippine opposition to extending leases.

 

The unmanned surveillance drones are capable to strike anytime as it equipped with advanced missile technology. Many believes that this advance Surveillance capability would also capable to provide real-time full motion video for china's incursion in the Philippines territory in the west Philippine sea.

 

Stars and Stripes (USA)

Quezon-Araneta underpass opened could save ₱240 million Gas a Year

THE 44-meter underpass was completed three months ahead of schedule. PHOTO/MARIANNE BERMUDEZ


Faster travel and fuel savings now await thousands of motorists and commuters negotiating Quezon Avenue and Araneta Avenue in Quezon City every day.

 

The 430-million underpass on the corner of the busy intersection was finally completed and opened Friday noon, three months ahead of schedule and cheaper by more than 200 million, after 15 months of construction.

 

President Aquino, who rode a pickup with Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson for the inaugural drive through the 440-meter interchange project under a downpour, praised public works officials for a job well-done.

 

"Who wouldn't be impressed? The original 694-million budget was reduced to 430 million, and it was completed ahead of schedule,'' Mr. Aquino said in brief remarks.

 

The underpass is projected to ease traffic congestion on both major thoroughfares that are traversed by more than 100,000 vehicles every day.

 

"This will bring much relief to the people,'' Singson said.

 

Originally, it was projected to be completed in 18 months, from June 20, 2011 to Dec. 10, 2012, and was allocated 694.15 million in the national budget. After some changes in the design, the projected cost was reduced to 534.6 million. The final cost was pegged at 430 million.

 

"This project is very important because more than 100,000 vehicles pass through here every day. If you save up P6 in gas, that's 20 million a month, and 240 million a year. We spent 430 million; in two years we will recover that because of the savings in gas,'' Singson told the President in a briefing inside a tent.

 

The savings in the project could be used for other projects in the city, he added.

 

The underpass stretches for 440 meters, and has two lanes in opposite directions. Its construction led to the improvement of the road, as well as installation of street lights and drainage facilities.

 

DPWH Undersecretary Romeo Momo, who is in charge of regional operations, said that the underpass would not be flooded even if heavy rains hit Metro Manila.

 

President Benigno S. Aquino III, accompanied by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson and Quezon City Representative Jorge Banal, leads the inaugural drive-through to formally open the Quezon-Araneta underpass in Quezon City on Friday. 


A portion of Araneta Avenue is usually flooded during a heavy downpour. Residents in the area also become instant evacuees as they usually had to flee their homes when it rains.

 

Momo said that all measures were taken to address potential problems like flooding in the area. He said the DPWH increased all the drainage capacity in the particular junction.

 

According to Momo, the underpass was designed with three submersible pumps and a water cistern that can suck out 277 liters of water a second in case of flooding, and an electric generating set for standby power. It has diaphragm walls that serve as retaining walls.

 

"We put a huge cistern that will be connected to a pumping system. These three pumps will pump out all the excess water that is collected at the cistern. This is the same design we used in the other underpasses," he said.

 

"This is not the first underpass that DPWH has done. We have underpasses in EDSA, Quezon Avenue and Makati City which do not submerge in floods," Momo added.

 

Furthermore, he explained that the Quezon-Araneta underpass was built on an elevated ground, which minimized the possibility of flooding.

 

Earlier in the day, the President inaugurated the North Rizal Water System Project in Barangay Payatas, Quezon City, which will service residents in Quezon City, Marikina and San Mateo town in Rizal.

 

"North Rizal Water System Project will use its own transmission mains to bring quality water to more or less 1 million residents of East Zone,'' he said in his speech.


Inquirer

Panatag Re-Stand-off: Philippines will send back Warship, New People Army raise hands to Fight with Army to Defeat China invaders

 

The Philippine government may soon send back its ships to Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal if China does not comply with an earlier agreement between the two countries to pull out their vessels from the hotly-contested rock formation in the West Philippine Sea, according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.

 

At the sidelines of the Center for Strategic and International Studies forum in Washington, DC Wednesday (Thursday in Manila), where he was invited as keynote speaker, Del Rosario said China reneged on the agreement reached sometime in June during negotiations in Manila between him and Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing.

 

"There was an agreement between the two countries that ships will be pulled out from the shoal. The Philippines pulled out their ship but the Chinese did not comply with the agreement," said Del Rosario during the question-and-answer portion.

 

"We believe they (China) should do this and of course if they continue to violate Philippine sovereign rights in that area, then we will have to consider a response. We do not know what that response is just yet," he added.

 

The Philippines insists Panatag Shoal (also known locally as Bajo de Masinloc), which is 124 nautical miles off Masinloc in Zambales, is part of its territory. A similar claim is being made by China on historical grounds.

 

China refused to consider the Philippine position to settle the dispute by bringing the matter before an international arbitration body, saying the matter should be discussed bilaterally.

 

Recent reconnaissance flights of the Philippine Air Force showed that China still has three government ships outside the shoal's lagoon. The Chinese have also cordoned off the shoal's entrance using ropes.

 

President Aquino ordered the withdrawal of two government ships from the shoal last June due to bad weather. Independent fishing bans were likewise raised by Manila and Beijing over the area, supposedly to diffuse the tension but Chinese fishermen continued to fish there.

 

Del Rosario, in his keynote speech, again called for a rules-based approach in resolving the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea, saying it is the only legitimate and viable way to address the issue.

 

"Let me make it clear: our foreign policy does not seek to isolate one country, nor even force the resolution of a dispute. Our core interest lies in being able to contribute to ensuring that the global security and economic system is based firmly on the rule of law. We are firmly committed to helping build an international system that will be just and fair to all states, regardless of economic size or power," he said.

 

Under the rules-based approach, countries would be governed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) treaty, which defines the rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of the world's oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources.

 

"We want to establish an actionable framework to define, clarify, and segregate, in accordance with the UNCLOS, the disputed and non-disputed areas of the West Philippine Sea. This would pave the way for feasible cooperation between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China in the medium-term," he said.

 

Del Rosario said the Philippines is still studying the possibility of a dispute settlement mechanism under UNCLOS.

 

As for the diplomatic track, he said Manila will continue to keep channels of discussions with China open. He cited his meeting last month with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, which, he said, shows that high-level contact between Manila and Beijing is being maintained.

 

New People's Army "Local Reds" vow to fight with AFP forces vs Chinese aggression

 

Philippine communist rebels, while embracing the ideology of Mao Zedong, will not side with China in the event the two countries' territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) gets ugly.

 

Jorge Madlos, spokesperson of National Democratic Front in Mindanao, said New People's Army rebels will fight alongside government security forces if China declared war on the Philippines.

 

"If there is a direct foreign invasion of our country, the focus of the revolutionary movement would be to fight the foreign aggressor," Madlos, also known as Ka Oris, told the Inquirer in a telephone interview.

 

He said Filipinos stood no chance of winning any war with China if it were fought at sea but if it were to be fought on land, "they (Chinese) don't stand a chance."

 

Madlos acknowledged that China was a superpower but that fact should not cow Filipinos who should  defend their country at all cost.

 

However, the senior local communist leader said, he did not believe that China would press its claims over the West Philippine Sea to the extent of going to war with the Philippines and other claimant-countries.

 

"I don't think China is foolhardy to attack us and wage war with the Philippines," Madlos said.

 

He also said Malacañang should not be too dependent on the United States as it was not helpful in resolving the territorial dispute with China.

 

"China has looked at us like we are pawns of the US. Because of that outlook, whatever step we take will be suspected of having been dictated by the US," Madlos said.

 

He said seeking assistance from the US "undermines the resolve of the Filipinos."

 

Malaya, Inquirer

United Nations Awarded Philippines for Tubbataha Reef conservation effort

Whitetip reef shark at Tubbataha Reef. Photo credit: Wikimedia


The Philippines received international praise this week for its coral reef conservation in Tubbataha Reef, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Friday.

 

A DFA news release said the World Future Council conferred on the Philippines a Silver Future Policy Award for its 2010 Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act.

 

"With the Future Policy Award we want to cast a spotlight on policies that lead by example. The aim of the World Future Council is to raise awareness for exemplary policies and speed up policy action towards just, sustainable and peaceful societies," the DFA quoted Alexandra Wandel, Director of the World Future Council, as saying ( http://www.dfa.gov.ph/main/index.php/newsroom/dfa-releases/6440-ph-recognized-for-conservation-effort-in-tubbataha-reefs ).

 

It also feted the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act as an exemplary policy that has "contributed most effectively to the sustainable management of the world's oceans and coasts for the benefit of current and future generations."

 

The DFA said the award was announced last Wednesday during a press conference at the UN Headquarters in New York, coinciding with the UN General Assembly.

 

An awards ceremony is scheduled on Oct. 16 at the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Hyderabad, India.

 

Other awards recognized the efforts of Palau, Namibia, South Africa, and California. Thirty-one policies from 22 countries were nominated for awards.

 

Nominations were assessed by an international jury of experts from the academe, politics, international bodies, civil society and indigenous groups from five continents.

 

World Future Council is an international policy research organization that aims "to safeguard the rights of future generations" through advocacies on environment, sustainable development and social justice.

 

Its 2012 Future Policy Award highlights the challenges faced by the world's oceans as well as exemplary solutions to protect them.

 

The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act ensures the effective management of the Tubbataha Reefs, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and hotspot of coral reef biodiversity.

 

Local authorities and non-government organizations engaged in protecting Tubbataha have received praise because of the excellent condition of the reefs, the DFA said.

 

"Tubbataha's example has also shown that carefully planned management can result in benefits for local communities since Tubbataha is a nursery site for fish supporting local artisanal fisheries," it added.

 

Similar legislation has been enacted for neighboring Apo Reef, it noted.

 

Meanwhile, Dr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, said the Future Policy Award provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the issue and increase practical action.

 

"The ocean world is in all our daily lives. Even for the many millions of people who may not think that they have a strong reliance on oceans, marine ecosystems and wildlife provide all kinds of benefits. The Future Policy Award provides the opportunity to raise awareness of the issue and increase practical action," he said.

 

"National policies have to consider the needs of local communities and incorporate their traditional knowledge of the ecosystems and the natural resources these communities depend on - to ensure the sustainable use and management thereof," added jury member Pauline Tangiora.

 

In the Know

 

Tubbataha Reef is an atoll coral reef located in the Sulu Sea of the Philippines. It is a marine sanctuary protected as Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park. It is nominated at the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

 

The word tubbataha is a combination of two Samal words: tubba and taha, which together means "a long reef exposed at low tide"

 

Tubbataha is located in the Sulu Sea, 98 nautical miles (181 km) southeast of Puerto Princesa City in the Palawan Province. The reef is made up of two coral atolls divided by an eight-kilometer (5 miles) wide channel. The South Atoll, the smaller of the two is five kilometers in length and three kilometers in width; while the North Atoll, the larger of the two is 16 kilometers (9.9 mi) long and five kilometers (3 miles) wide.(Knipp 22) Each reef has a single small islet that protrudes from the water. The atolls are separated by a deep channel 8 km (5.0 mi) wide.

 

There are no permanent inhabitants of the islets or reefs. Fishermen visit the area seasonally, establishing shelters on the islets. The park is visited by tourists, particularly divers. Trips to Tubbattaha from mid-March to mid-June are all vessel-based; the park is about twelve hours by boat from Puerto Princesa City. Tubbataha is considered as the best dive site in the Philippines and the diving dedicated ships that operate during the "Tubbataha Season" are usually booked years in advance especially during the Asian holidays of Easter and "Golden Week".

 

Tubbataha has become a popular site for seasoned sports divers because of its coral "walls" where the shallow coral reef abruptly ends giving way to great depths. These "walls" are not only wonderful diving spots but they are also wonderful habitats for many colonies of fish. There are giant trevally (jacks), hammerhead sharks, barracudas, manta rays, palm-sized Moorish idols, napoleon wrasse, parrotfish, and moray eels living in the sanctuary. There also have been reported sightings of whale sharks and tiger sharks. Tubbataha is even home to the hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) which are endangered species. (Knipp 24)

 

Over 1000 species inhabit in the reef; many are already considered as endangered. Animal species found include manta rays, lionfish, sea turtles, clownfish, and sharks.

Vivid corals cover more than two-thirds of the area and the waters around the reef are places of refuge for numerous marine lives. The seemingly diverse ecosystem of this sanctuary rivals the Great Barrier Reef – having 350 coral species and 500 fish species. (Knipp 22, 24) In June 2009 an outbreak of the crown-of-thorns starfish was observed, possibly affecting the ecological functioning of this relatively pristine coral reef.

 

Aside from being a marine sanctuary, Tubbataha is also renowned for being a bird sanctuary. A lighthouse islet, at the southern tip of the South Atoll, supports a large number of seabirds which nest there. Around the Tubbataha, there are tens of thousands of masked red-foot boobies, terns, and frigate birds resting during their annual migrations. To minimize any external intrusions, the Philippine Coast Guard maintains a small monitoring station on one of the many permanent sand bars.(Knipp 24)

 

GMA News

Thursday, September 27, 2012

₱1.8 Billion Philippines’ largest Export Processing Zone - 225-hectare to rise in Davao by 2013

 

STA. CRUZ, Davao del Sur–A 1.8-billion export processing zone, touted to become the country's largest when finished, will rise here at the start of 2013.

 

Mayor Joel Ray Lopez said the provincial and the town government chipped in to fund the facility, which will be built on a 225-hectare piece of land in Barangay Tagabuli here, which was acquired from a local businessman.

 

Lopez said the land will be divided, according to the masterplan, into sectors.

 

A 150-hectare portion was identified for industrial use while another 50 hectares will be for commercial use. Twenty hectares will accommodate facilities for common services, he said.

 

The export processing zone, he said, will also incorporate a housing facility, which will be built on the remaining 8-hectare area.

 

"The facility will be offered for lease to interested businessmen," he said.

 

Lopez said they were optimistic about the success of the project because many locators are interested in coming in.

 

"It is better to put them in one place, which will be more convenient for them," he said, adding that the town enjoys stable power, good water supply and telecommunication facilities.

 

Currently, this town plays hosts to a number of industries, including desiccated coconut manufacturer Franklin baker, Banana chips exporter GSL Foods, beer giant San Miguel Brewery Corp. and power generator Aboitiz Power's Hedcor.

 

Lopez said the project would not only generate more taxes and revenues for the local government but will also generate more employment opportunities

 

Inquirer

Philippine World War-2 Tunnel makeover To Boost Tourism

Fort Bonifacio World War-II Tunnel

Recognizing the need to preserve heritage and raise people's awareness of history, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) said plans are now afoot to develop and rehabilitate the little known Fort Bonifacio tunnel in Taguig which saw action during World War II.

 

BCDA President and CEO Arnel Paciano Casanova said the planned conversion of the war tunnel into a heritage site will also contribute to the country's tourism industry.

 

Cassanova said the project will also greatly to contribute to the people's understanding and appreciation of the history of the former military camp, Fort Bonifacio, now known as the Bonifacio Global City (BGC).

 

The BCDA and the Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation (FBDC) are joining hands to develop the old military structure, which was first dug up by Igorot miners in the early 1900s upon the directive of General Douglas MacArthur, who had served as military adviser to former President Manuel Quezon.

 

Currently, the BCDA said they are looking at the structural integrity of the tunnel and sustainability of the project.

 

"Preserving the heritage of Fort Bonifacio and incorporating its heritage and history in the development of BGC is what makes BGC a cut above other cities," said Cassanova.

 

"Bonifacio Global City is the fastest growing commercial, business, and residential district in the country today. It is the home of passionate minds. Equally important is the rich history that is incorporated in BGC's development – giving it a soul," he added.

 

"We are also preserving our heritage site and this is part of our contribution in raising the awareness of our people on the contribution of our armed forces, particularly our soldiers in preserving the freedom and the liberty and democracy in this country," said Cassanova.

 

The Fort Bonifacio Tunnel, an underground passageway located in the eastern portion of Bonifacio Global City, in Taguig, to the American colonial period when it was first constructed during World War II to serve as military headquarters and storage of war supplies.

 

The original tunnel's length was about 2.24 kilometers with 32 built-in chambers and two passable exits, one leading to Barangay Pembo and the other to Barangay East Remo.

 

Today, amid the rapid development of Bonifacio Global City, a 730-meter segment of the tunnel remains unaffected, existing underneath the C-5 Road, with its opening near Market! Market!

 

Cassanova said the Fort Bonifacio war tunnel will position the country as a bastion of freedom and democracy in the whole of Asia and bring honor to Filipino soldiers who sacrificed their lives to fight for such freedom.

 

"We have a rich and fascinating history on the Filipino's struggle for freedom and independence," Casanova stated, adding that "such struggle has left historical artifacts that remind us how our forefathers fought for the freedom we now have. Some of these artifacts, such as the Fort Bonifacio Tunnel, are beneath the ground we walk on everyday."

 

The conversion of the Fort Bonifacio tunnel into a heritage site is foremost seen to promote appreciation of Fort Bonifacio's history – from the time of the American colonial period to the time of the implementation of the Bases Conversion Program, which gave rise to world-class communities like the Bonifacio Global City (BGC).

 

Cassanova likewise pointed out that the conversion of the tunnel into a heritage site will contribute to the country's tourism, which Cassanova said, plays a significant part in stimulating economic growth.

 

"Along BGC's world-class development, BCDA plans to rehabilitate, develop and convert the old tunnel into a historical site in BGC that will showcase the city's rich and unique heritage as a former military baseland," said the  BCDA president.

 

The war tunnel which most Filipinos are not aware of... this has been a tunnel that served the Philippine military since the time of the Commonwealth and up to the World War II so that the city, the Bonifacio Global City, would have a sense of history and culture and heritage and also honor our soldiers," he added.

 

History Of The Philippine World War 2 Tunnel

 

First dug up in 1936, a year after the establishment of the Philippine Commonwealth, the Fort Bonifacio war tunnel was envisioned to serve as Mac Arthur's headquarters and as a stockroom for war supplies.

 

When World War II broke out on 1941, Mac Arthur however did not use the tunnel as planned. And with the surrender of Filipino and American troops following the fall of Bataan and Corregidor, Japanese forces took over the tunnel, which was expanded with an additional exit outside of Fort Bonifacio (then Fort William McKinley) all the way to Villamor Airbase (formerly Nichols Airbase).

 

To further develop the tunnel, the Japanese employed forced labor among Formosans, Taiwanese, and Filipinos.

 

With the liberation campaign in 1945 and the end of World War II, American troops used flame throwers to flush put Japanese troops who hid in the tunnel.

 

A briefing paper given by the BCDA to defense reporters said that even a year after the war, Japanese troops were still said to be coming out of the tunnel and that some of them were gunned down by Filipino soldiers who were strategically positioned at the exits of the tunnel.

 

In the mid-70s, Maj. Gen. Fortunato Abat, then the Army chief, initiated upgrading of the tunnel by having it cemented. This was done by the Army's 51st Engineering Brigade. It was also during that time that the Task Force Greater Manila undertook diggings in the tunnel in search for "hidden treasures."

 

In the 80s, the historical significance of the tunnel as part of the Philippine Army museum and library complex was recognized. Rehabilitation and face-lifting was done on the tunnel, which was formally opened to the public for viewing in 1989.

 

With the advent of the Bases Conversion Development Plan, the Army moved to preserve and retain the PA museum complex to include the tunnel.

 

However, with the issuance of Administrative Order 269 "Confirming the Adoption of the Fort Bonifacio Master Development Plan" by then President Fidel V. Ramos, historical structures and sites in Fort Bonifacio were demolished despite representations made by the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the National Historical Institute (NHI).

 

Manila Bulletin

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