CLARK FREEPORT – The Philippines and the United States finally signed on Monday a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the cooperation, restoration, operation and maintenance of the historic Clark Veterans Cemetery here.
A Philippine government website (dfa.gv.ph) said Arnel Paciano D. Casanova, president-CEO of the Bases Conversation and Development Authority (BCDA), signed the MOU for the Philippine side while newly designated U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg signed for the American side at the DFA main office in Pasay City.
The MOU will take effect upon signing and will be implemented by the BCDA of the Philippines and the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) of the United States. The MOU provides these two implementing agencies with a cooperation framework on the approval of new burials and on the upkeep of the cemetery.
With the signing of the MOU, the U.S. government will provide a $5-million fund for the rehabilitation of the Clark Veterans Cemetery. The Philippine Government, through the BCDA, maintains titles to the lands covered by the cemetery under Republic Act 7227.
According to information from the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) group, the Clark Veterans Cemetery is a seven-hectare burial ground established in 1947 at the old Clark Air Force Base as a final resting place for Filipino Scouts and American veterans who fought in World War II.
Meanwhile, advocates of the restoration and maintenance of the Clark Veterans Cemetery expressed elation to the signing of the MOU. Dennis Wright, president and CEO of Peregrine Development International who had long been advocating for the restoration and proper maintenance of the cemetery, said “this is the final official step required to get the cemetery transferred from the volunteers of VFW Post 2485 to the ABMC.”
Wright also acknowledged the assistance of those who helped in lobbying for the restoration of the cemetery “because so many of you worked hard to help make it happen.” Mabalacat Tourism Officer Guy Hilbero welcomed the MOU signing saying, “all’s well that ends well,” after frustrations and lengthy lobbying or the restoration of the cemetery.
“The souls of all US veterans, including members of the Philippine Scouts buried at the cemetery, will finally rest in peace with dignity,” Hilbero said.