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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

Libingan ng mga Bayani occupied by informal settlers
Writer: Eduardo A. Galvez, Media Relations Service-PRIB
13 October 2012 10:13:47 AM

The Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) may no longer be the resting place for deserving Filipinos and soldiers who died in the line of duty because a big portion of it is currently being occupied by informal settlers.

In House Resolution 2654, Rep. Rodolfo Biazon (Lone District, Muntinlupa City) urged the House Committee on National Defense and Security to conduct a probe to determine what measures can be recommended to address the situation.

Biazon said informal settlers are now occupying a big portion of the Libingan ng mga Bayani which is classified as a national shrine.

"There is an urgent need to establish how many are already interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani and how many more it can accommodate, aside from determining what to do with these informal settlers," Biazon said.

Despite warnings from authorities, Biazon said informal settlers continue with the construction of houses and stores on some portion of the LNMB, a situation which may later on affect its function as a final resting place for deserving Filipinos.

Biazon cited the decision of the Pasig Regional Trial Court Branch 153 denying the appeal of Erlinda Belaya, who was found guilty by the Metropolitan Trial court (MTC) Branch 74 of Taguig City of violating Sections 27 and 44 in relation to Section 45 of Republic Act 7279 or the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992.

It was earlier established by evidence and by the testimonies of witnesses that Belaya occupied the land which is classified as a National Shrine - LNMB without the approval of the Department of National Defense (DND) and Philippine Army Task Group Bantay.

Biazon said the Philippine Army Task Group Bantay (PATGB) repeatedly and consistently conducted dialogue with the informal settlers to translate the layman terms of the factual information in order to convince them to vacate the LNMB peacefully.

The Republic Memorial Cemetery established in May 1947 was renamed Libingan ng mga Bayani on October 27, 1954 by the late President Ramon Magsaysay is now under the administration of the Grave Service Unit (GSU), a unit of the Philippine Army Support, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

By virtue of Presidential Proclamation 208 issued by then President Ferdinand Marcos entitled "Excluding from the Operation of Proclamation No. 423 Dated July 12, 1957 which established the Fort Bonifacio Military Reservation, a certain portion of the land embraced therein situated in the province of Rizal and reserving the same for National Shrine purposes."

Under AFP Regulation G 161-373 or "The allocation of Cemetery Plots at the LNMB" issued on April 9, 1986 by then Chief of Staff of the AFP General Fidel Ramos and President Corazon Aquino, deceased persons who can be interred at LNMB are: Medal of Valor Awardees; President of the Philippines as the Commander –in-Chief of the AFP; Secretary of National Defense; Chief of Staff of the AFP; General/Flag Officers of the AFP; Active and retired military personnel of the AFP; former AFP members who laterally entered and joined the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG); Veterans of the Philippine Revolution of 1896, the First and Second World War, as well as recognized guerillas; government dignitaries, statesman, national artists and other deceased persons whose interment or re-interment has been approved by the Commander-in-Chief, Congress or the Secretary of National Defense; Former Presidents, Secretaries of National Defense, Chiefs of Staff and widows of former Presidents.