Good news for the owners of the illegal structures at the Northern Negros Natural Park.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources may soon “legalize” their construction at the protected zone.
DENR Undersecretary Jim Sampulna, who was in Bacolod City yesterday for the opening of the 2nd East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF) Congress, said property owners can apply for Special Agreement in Protected Area (SAPA) to legalize their stay there.
“We will legalize their stay there. We can’t do anything. The structures were already cemented,” he said. “The structures per se, are illegal because they are at the natural park. But they can apply for SAPA,” he added.
Sampulna, a former director of DENR Region 6, also served as the chairman of the Protected Area Management Board. He had been actively campaigning against the illegal structures in the protected area.
In 2014, DENR issued cease-and-desist orders to more than 90 owners of structures within the multiple-use zones of the NNNP in Salvador Benedicto town. They also demolished some structures that are encroaching on the protected zone.
In 2018, owners of 11 illegal structures were indicted for violation of forest laws.
Just this year, two environmentalist groups in the province had sought a congressional inquiry on the unabated and surreptitious encroachment and expansion of illegal structures inside the NNNP.
Green Alert coordinator Randy James Rojo said that they lament the existence of restaurants and viewing decks owned by prominent politicians, and a building owned by the DENR within the NNNP, which stretches from Salvador Benedicto to Silay City in Negros Occidental.
Meanwhile, Sampulna said that local government units have to establish sanitary landfill in their localities.
“If they can’t do it, LGUs should unify to put one sanitary landfill in every congressional district for their residuals,” he said. He also urged congressmen to help realize the proposal.
“I hope our legislators will prioritize this,” he added.
He said local chief executives will be charged for non-compliance with the law. “The law is hard, but it is the law,” he added.*
back to top