Bill calls for the return of Luneta Park under the supervision of the city of Manila

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MANILA – House Deputy Speaker Lito Atienza wants the Manila city government to take control of the iconic 58-hectare Luneta Park to further improve its preservation and management.

Under Bill 2594, the city government of Manila will be responsible for the historic monument in place of the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC), a unit of the Ministry of Tourism.

“Highly developed municipal governments across the country have already taken over oversight of national urban parks under their jurisdiction,” said Atienza, former three-term mayor of Manila, on Sunday.

He said Quezon Memorial Circle, for example, has since been returned to the Quezon City government, while Burnham Park has since returned to the Baguio City government.

“We are absolutely convinced that progressive municipal governments are in the best position to take care of national parks in their territories,” said Atienza. “In the case of Luneta, the city government is already spending on utilities needed to maintain the park, so we might as well return it to the city for administrative purposes.

Luneta, also known as Rizal Park, was originally administered by the Manila City Government until 1963, when President Diosdado Macapagal established the NPDC to oversee the development of the downtown national parks .

“The return of national parks to the cities to which they belong will give more meaning to the mandate of the 1987 Constitution for the state to advance the autonomy of local communities,” said Atienza. “The delegation of more powers and responsibilities to cities will also give more substance to the Local Government Code of 1991.”

Filled with historical value, Atienza described Luneta as an invaluable national heritage.

The park is a major tourist site, with attractions such as the Rizal monument and the Independence Flagpole.

The monument pays homage to the public execution on December 30, 1896, of national hero José Rizal in Luneta, then known as Bagumbayan, who enraged Filipinos and fanned the flames of the Philippine Revolution against Spain.

The flagpole marks the spot where the Philippine flag was hoisted on July 4, 1946, when independence from the United States was achieved. (RP)

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