WW2 tunnels declared Bamban historical sites

Historian Rhonie Cauguiran Dela Cruz, chairman of the Bamban Historical Society, and an Aeta volunteer pose by the entrance of a World War II tunnel. Contributed photo
Historian Rhonie Cauguiran Dela Cruz, chairman of the Bamban Historical Society, and an Aeta volunteer pose by the entrance of a World War II tunnel. Contributed photo

BAMBAN, Tarlac --- The Sangguniang Bayan of Bamban town has declared the network of World War II tunnels as municipal historical site and heritage zone.

This was learned from Resolution Number 196 Series of 2023 passed by the municipal council on September 13, 2023.

Rhonie Cauguiran Dela Cruz, chairman of the Bamban Historical Society, said his group, with the help of provincial and town officials, pushed for measures to protect the tunnels and other historical sites.

Section 15 Article XIV of the Philippine Constitution provides that the state shall conserve, promote, and popularize the nation's historical and cultural heritage and resources, as well as artistic creations, the municipal resolution stated.

It added that in Section 12 of Republic Act 10066 or National Heritage Act of 2009, Designation of Heritage Zones. - The National Historical Institute and the National Museum, in consultation with the Commission and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board or other concerned agencies, shall designate heritage zones to protect the historical and cultural integrity of a geographical area.

The Municipality of Bamban, Tarlac is important to Philippine World War II history for a number of reasons, according to Dela Cruz.

He said that during the defense of the Philippines against the Japanese invasion, Bamban served as the western terminus of the Defense Line No. 5 or D5, which served as one of the last lines of defense of the USAFFE or United Stated Armed Forces in the Far East before the retreat to Bataan Peninsula in 1941-1942.

Aside from this, Dela Cruz said Bamban is the location of networks of tunnel that was built by the Japanese and served as part of their defensive lines and one of their headquarters during the liberation of the Philippines from 1944 to 1945.

He said the tunnels were built by the Japanese to protect Clak Airfield, an important base of Imperial Japanese Army Air Forces and Imperial Japanese Navy Air Services.

The Bamban tunnels were utilized by various Japanese forces, notably the Kembu Group, Dela Cruz said.

He said the historic tunnels, located in private properties, are currently neglected and in dire condition.

Dela Cruz said that by declaring the Bamban World War II Network of Tunnels a municipal historical site, proper protection and conservation effort can be implemented.

Dela Cruz thanked Tarlac Governor Susan Yap and the Bamban municipal council for the passage of the resolution.

"The next move will be for the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to adopt said resolution and to endorse it to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines for National Historical Marker," he added. (RGN)

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