Ejercito rues relocation of 3 San Juan monuments

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 9) — Senator JV Ejercito questioned the decision of the local government unit to relocate the monuments of three heroes to “less prominent” areas in San Juan.

“They should have a lot of explaining to do,” he said during a briefing Monday.

Ejercito also said the statues of Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Jacinto, and Jose Rizal served as landmarks, were sources of pride, and symbols of heroism at Pinaglabanan Street.

In a series of tweets last week, Ejercito shared photos of the rubbles where the statues originally stood.

Speaking to CNN Philippines’ The Source on Monday, Ejercito said the local government unit decided to relocate the statues inside a shrine and that this was approved by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).

“Pinaglabanan is a sacred ground… so we really wanted to highlight that. In other countries, landmarks, they really give prominence to their heroism and every time people will pass… they will feel some sort of pride,” he pointed out.

Ejercito also made an appeal to Mayor Francis Zamora to stop politicking, noting that the three monuments were unveiled during the former's term as San Juan mayor.

"These are national monuments. And symbols of our heroism sana naman 'wag nang idamay (do not get them involved anymore),"

San Juan defends relocation

The city government of San Juan said the transfer of monuments to the Pinaglabanan Shrine itself would allow the public to view the monuments all at once and pay their proper respects to the heroes of the Battle of Pinaglabanan.

“With the relocation of the monuments of Rizal, Bonifacio, and Jacinto to the Pinaglabanan Shrine, visitors can now witness and better appreciate a trio of Eduardo Castrillo’s masterpieces, which when combined with the Castrillo 'Spirit of Pinaglabanan' sculpture at the inner portion of the Pinaglabanan Shrine, creates a remarkable ensemble of four Castrillo sculptures,” it said.

It said safety concerns also prompted the relocation, after several car accidents were reported in the intersections where the monuments were previously located.

According to the city government, the NHCP approved the transfer in September 2021. The relocation is also backed by two city ordinances approved by the city council, including minority councilors.

It added that restoration experts of the NHCP are responsible for preserving the monuments.

CNN Philippines' correspondent Eimor Santos contributed to this report.