Sponsorship Speech: Committee Report on House Bill 1341 (Renaming the Hilltop Rizal PNP Command as Camp General Licerio Geronimo)

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, I have the honor to report on the floor House Bill No. 1341, under Committee Report Number 574 entitled, “An Act Renaming the Hilltop Rizal Philippine National Police (PNP) Command in the Municipality of Taytay, Province of Rizal as Camp General Licerio Geronimo,” as authored by Honorable Congressmen Romeo M. Acop, Leopoldo N. Bataoil, Gustavo S. Tambunting, and Cristina “Chiqui” Roa-Puno.

Mr. President, records of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) tell us the rich legacy of General Licerio Imaya Geronimo, a Filipino farmer who later became one of the leaders of the secret revolutionary society known as the Katipunan.

General “Cerio,” as he was popularly called, organized forces under his command in the towns of Montalban, San Mateo, and Marikina, all in Morong Province, now referred to as Rizal Province. His brilliant command of his men resulted in the retreat and defeat of the Spanish forces who attacked General Emilio Aguinaldo in Mt. Puray. In 1898, he was designated as the division general of the revolutionary army in San Mateo. When the Filipino-American War began in 1899, he took the helm as the commanding general of the third military zone of Manila.

Mr. President, in December of 1899, at the Battle of San Mateo, Rizal, General Cerio gallantly led the command against American troops headed by Major General Henry W. Lawton. It was during this battle that one of Geronimo’s Tiradores de la Muerte killed General Lawton, the highest ranking American officer to fall in a battle against the Filipino revolutionaries.

Notably, General Cerio’s valiance led to our victories in pursuit of freedom and independence. These earned him recognition as exhibited by the many legislations passed in honor of his name, to wit: Proclamation No. 234 series of 1993 declaring August 27 of every year as General Licerio Geronimo Day in the Municipality of Rodriguez, Province of Rizal; Republic Act No. 11044 passed in 2018, renaming the Wawa Road at Barangay San Rafael, Municipality of Rodriguez, Province of Rizal, an extension of San Mateo-Rodriguez National Secondary Road, as General Licerio I. Geronimo Highway; and finally, Ordinance No. 93-34, enacted by Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Rizal, renaming the Rizal Police Provincial Office Camp to Camp General Licerio I. Geronimo, consistent with this proposed bill.

However, prior to the passage of Ordinance No. 93-34, it appears that the area occupied by the present camp was acquired by the National Government by virtue of a Deed of Donation executed by the Rizal Provincial Government through then Provincial Governor Isidro S. Rodriguez in 1972.  Due to this, said ordinance cannot take effect since the said camp is already a property owned by the national government, and like any other properties it cannot be renamed by a local government unit. Thus, there is a need to enact a law to give effect to this change in name.

Mr. President, it is worthwhile to note that the renaming of the PNP Command is compliant with the Revised Guidelines on the Naming and Renaming of Public Structures set by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP). For one, the name “Camp General Licerio Geronimo” has historical and cultural significance. It also contributes to positive development as it evokes national pride through the good example exhibited by the valiant soldier, General Geronimo. More so, as this Representation elaborated, the name is appropriate in terms of its historical value and significance to the place to be renamed, the Hilltop Camp, PNP Command in Rizal Province, where General Cerio particularly rendered invaluable service. Finally, it is inarguably most fitting to rename our police force’s posture in Rizal province after a soldier later commemorated as one of our great Filipino heroes.

Notably, Mr. President, this proposed measure receives the approval of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, which recognizes General Cerio’s valuable leadership during the war against the United States.

Mr. President, in closing, let me reiterate the relevant words of one statesman, Benjamin Disraeli, and I quote: “The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.”

As an addendum Mr. President, your chairman of the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs and sponsor of this measure would like to make a manifestation. If there is no violent objection from our colleagues, I’d like to issue an appeal to close the period of interpellations. Otherwise I’m ready to defend the measure on the floor.