CLARK FREEPORT – The state-run Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) announced this week it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the US Embassy formalizing a law passed in the US last year allowing the US government to fi nance the upkeep of the US Veterans Cemetery in this former US military base.
The MOU was signed by BCDA President-CEO Arnel Paciano Casanova and US Ambassador Philip Goldberg and was witnessed by Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Sec. Albert del Rosario at the DFA head office in Manila.
The seven-hectare cemetery was established in 1947 as a final resting place for American veterans and Filipino scouts who had served in US wars before World War II. It is said to contain the remains of more than 8,600 US
servicemen, Filipino scouts and their dependents.
After Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991, Clark Air Base was abandoned along with the Clark Veterans Cemetery (CVC). While attempts had been made by volunteers to restore the cemetery without US assistance, the MOU sets the stage for CVC’s full restoration.
Under the agreement, the US will provide an initial $5-million fund for the rehabilitation of the cemetery, while the Philippine government, through the BCDA, maintains ownership of the land. Casanova stressed the importance of the cemetery, saying that “it is but fitting and honorable to remember those who have fought for our freedom, our liberty and our democracy, [and] we are honored to stand side by side with the US government in upholding these ideals.”
For his part, Goldberg said that the MOU “will pave the way for the long-term maintenance of CVC, and noted the
importance of the cemetery in honoring American and Filipino war heroes.” “Many men and women have answered the call to defend the values that we cherish, and many have willingly offered their lives for the good of countless others,” he said.
“Those interred [at CVC] served faithfully and honorably for their countries, and their service and sacrifices will always be remembered,” he added.