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Bill to create the Military History and Shrines Board

MAGDALO Party-list Representative Gary Alejano
MAGDALO Party-list Representative Gary Alejano

MANILA, Philippines – Magdalo Party-list Reps. Gary C. Alejano and Francisco Ashley L. Acedillo have filed a bill creating the Military History and Shrines Board (MHSB) which is tasked to fully focus on the maintenance and development of national military shrines and battle fields.
Alejano and Acedillo said the MHSB, as proposed in House Bill 6382, replaces the Military Shrine Services (MSS), which was created by virtue of Presidential Decree 1076.
Alejano said the MSS is placed under the supervision of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) along with the Veterans Memorial Hospital, Veterans Claims Settlement Staff and the Philippine Veterans Administration.
“The MSS is tasked to conserve and develop military shrines of national importance. It plays an instrumental role in preserving the historical significance of our country’s military legacies,” Alejano added.
Alejano said the significance of military shrines cannot be overemphasized. Military shrines are the country’s historical touchstones that link the past, present and future generations.
“Military shrines ensure that those who lost their lives in battles will never be forgotten. They also serve as central symbols of our country’s architectural and artistic heritage,” Alejano said.
Acedillo said the sorry state of the country’s military shrines warrants urgent government attention. “It is only through their preservation can we immortalize the sacrifices of our fallen heroes,” he added.
Acedillo said the absence of a military historian, coupled with inadequate budget, hinders the MSS to properly maintain and develop national military shrines. Lack of funds also hampers the ability of the MSS to acquire military shrines that are under management of local government units (LGUs).
Under the measure to be known as “The Military History and Shrines Board of 2016,” the Board shall administer, maintain and develop national shrines consisting of military memorials, battle monuments or sites, underwater or on land.
The Board shall be tasked to regulate activities pertaining to the preservation, restoration and conservation of military shrines, monuments and battle fields.
It shall also manage and preserve underwater military wrecks and coordinate with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) on the declaration of markers on military shrines, monuments and battle fields.
The Board will be chaired by the Administrator of PVAO, assisted by a military historian.
The MHSB shall be exempt from all taxes on its income. All donations in any form to the MHSB shall be exempt from the donor’s tax and the same shall be considered as allowable deduction from the gross income in the computation of the income tax of donor.
The Department of National Defense (DND) is directed to promulgate the rules and regulations to ensure the effective implementation of this Act.
By expanding the powers and delineating the functions of the Military History and Shrines Board, the lawmakers hoped that the public will place greater importance on the value of patriotism.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.