The Bases Conversion Development Authority is now developing a master plan in cooperation with other government agencies to turn the historic Fort Bonifacio Tunnel in Taguig City into a heritage site.

BCDA president and chief executive officer Arnel Casanova said the conversion of the tunnel into a heritage site will help boost tourism in Metro Manila and the government is looking at a public-private partnership scheme to develop the property.

“We may tap the private sector for the project,” said Casanova, who toured journalists in the tunnel on Thursday.

“There is a need to preserve the heritage and promote the history that once played a vital role in regaining our freedom and democracy,” he added.

He said the BCDA and other state agencies are now working on the master plan which will outline how it will be developed, including the project costs.

“It should be able to generate revenues to sustain its maintenance,” Casanova said, adding that the construction works may begin next year or early 2014.

The 2.24-kilometer tunnel has 32 chambers that were meant to serve as a military munitions stockpile. It has two exits with one at Barangay Pembo and the other in Barangay East Remo, both in Makati City.

Retired army general Restituto Aguillar, a trustee of the Armed Forces Museum, said the tunnel was built almost simultaneously with Fort McKinley, now known as Fort Bonifacio, around 1910.

Aguillar said the tunnel served as the main supply depot of the north and southern operations of the US forces against the Filipino revolutionaries.

He said most of the tunnel’s laborers came from the mining firms in Baguio and Benguet and also included Japanese laborers who were later turned out to be soldiers spying for the Japanese military.

Japanese troops took over the tunnel in the 1940s and employed forced labor among Formosans and Filipinos to further develop it.

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