MANILA Rep. Manuel Luis Lopez yesterday opposed the proposed inclusion of a portion of the Arroceros Park in the city as among the properties that would be developed, leased, used or sold to pay for the pensions and benefits of war veterans and military retirees, saying all properties under the care of the city government “should remain with and be safeguarded by the city, for the benefit of its residents.”
Lopez made the comment as a technical working group (TWG) of the House committee on veterans’ affairs and welfare tackled a substitute bill that would authorize the sale of the former site of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) on Arroceros Street in Ermita, Manila.
“Should this TWG, veterans affairs committee, any other committee of Congress and for that matter any other instrumentality of government, take a different position, I signify my continuing objection because this goes against the best interest of the City of Manila and my beloved Manilenyos,” he said.
The TWG is consolidating House Bill Nos. 702, 1921 and 5841 (An Act Mandating the Use of Proceeds from the Development, Lease, Use, or Sale of Certain Properties for Veterans Affairs and Welfare, and for Other Purposes). The bills are authored by Reps. Ruffy Biazon of Muntinlupa, Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado of Bulacan, and Manuel Cabochan III of Magdalo party-list, respectively.
Lopez, chair of the House committee on Metro Manila Development, said the property is not owned by the PVAO and is reserved exclusively to be used as a park pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 435.
“Even PVAO impliedly admits that this is the case as it even asks DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) Sec. (Roy) Cimatu for the titling of the property and the issuance of a presidential proclamation,” Lopez argued. “Absent the issuance of such a presidential proclamation, the use for the property remains and this must be ensured by the City of Manila and the Manila Parks Bureau.”
Under Section 88 of Commonwealth Act 141, the basis for Presidential Proclamation 435, “the tract or tracts of land reserved under the provision of Section 83 shall be non-alienable and shall not be subject of occupation, entry, sale, lease, or other disposition until again declared alienable under the provisions of this Act or by proclamation of the President.”