GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Aug. 2 — City officials are pushing for the preservation and development of bunkers and tunnels of Japanese troops during World War II in parts of the city into tourist attractions.
City Councilor Shandee Llido- Pestaño, chair of the city council’s committee on tourism, said Wednesday they are now working on a development plan and the passage of an ordinance that would facilitate the conservation of the historic structures.
She said they are coordinating with the owners of the land where the bunkers and tunnels are situated for possible partnerships.
Llido said they will establish a heritage council to spearhead the initiative and ensure that it would be sustained.
The city government has documented a total of 44 bunkers in eight barangays in the city that were used and eventually abandoned after World War II by the Japanese Imperial Army.
The City Economic and Management and Cooperative Development Office (CEMCDO) said these are located in Barangays Buayan, Baluan, Bula, Conel, Labangal, Ligaya, Mabuhay and San Isidro.
The city’s tourism council linked up earlier this year with the National Commission on Culture and the Arts for the creation of a roadmap for the conservation and development of the city’s Japanese bunkers.
In support of these efforts, members of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association- South Cotabato, Sarangani and General Santos City chapter conducted a technical documentation of the bunkers.
According to historical accounts, Japanese troops had established an air base in Barangay Buayan here at the height of World War II.
The air base served as landing base for Japanese warplanes and training ground for its combat pilots.
Japanese troops constructed the bunkers in strategic areas of the city to protect and fortify their positions.
Meantime, in line with the initiative, the city council is pushing for the establishment of landmarks for various historical sites in the city.
The move is supported by the council’s committees on tourism, laws, urban planning and development, public works and infrastructure, and trade, commerce and industry.
City Councilor Brix Tan, chair of the committee on trade, commerce and industry, said in a statement that they are currently in the process of identifying the possible areas as well as crafting the designs and budget for the historical landmarks.
Among those initially identified as possible sites are junction of the Lagao-Baluan-Davao road and along the Fil-Am road going to the city international airport.
The CEMCDO has already prepared six proposals for site development projects on the proposed landmarks.
A proposed ordinance is also being pushed for the creation of a technical working group that will handle the “legworks” on the matter.