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‘Illegal’ establishments at NNNP turned ‘legal’

BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN

Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez (left) extends his support to Mayor Mark Andrew Golez and Vice Mayor Thomas Maynard Ledesma, as well as  10 other Asenso Silay councilor aspirants, who filed their respective certificates of candidacy on Oct. 7* GPB photo

Resorts and related establishments located within the Northern Negros Natural Park in Patag and Guimbalaon tourist destination areas in Silay City, Negros Occidental, that were closed after being issued with cease-and-desist orders for lack of the necessary permits to operate, are now back to normal operations.

Mayor Mark Andrew Golez, who is up for reelection for his third term as the local chief executive of Silay City, yesterday said they will able to turn the “illegal to legal”, after owners of resorts, coffee shops and lodging houses, complied with all the requirements imposed upon them.

This comes after an ordinance was enacted creating the Silay-Patag-Guimbalaon Development Management Authority, which was also approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Negros Occidental, Golez said.

In August last year, the city government of Silay ordered the closure of all establishments at the Patag and Guimbalaon areas, a known tourist destination in Negros Occidental, for failure of the owners to pay business taxes, among other mandated fees.

Golez said that the newly-enacted ordinance requires owners of commercial establishments in the multi-purpose use zones of NNNP in Brgys. Patag and Guimbalaon, Silay City, to write a letter of intent and submit their development plans, among other requirements, to the city government, which will endorse it to the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) for approval, prior to issuance of temporary business permits.

With the issuance of business permits, they may now pay taxes to the government, he added.

Slowly, we were able to legalize the illegal, Golez, who led the Asenso Silay group in filing their respective certificates of candidacy, yesterday said.

Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez who witnessed filing of COCs of the Asenso Silay group, recalled that in 2019, Congress passed the Expanded NIPAS (National Integrated Protected Area Systems) Act, where protected areas will be put under the control of and supervision of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, through its Biodiversity Management Bureau.

One of the hallmarks of the law aimed at providing greater space for local government units to help monitor the development within the multi-use zone of protected areas, Benitez said.

He lauded the Silay City government for being the first to create such authority, through the creation of development management authority, followed by the city government of Talisay, as he hopes that other LGUs will follow soon, in order to have mechanism to implement the E-NIPAS.

Benitez also revealed a proposal of the Department of Public Works and Highways to build a tourism road that will connect the Mambucal Mountain Resort in Murcia to Gawahon Eco- Park in Victorias City, passing through cities of Silay, Talisay and EB Magalona.

While he is pushing for a study of the DPWH proposal, Benitez said he wants LGUs in the Metro Third to follow the Silay model and create a mechanism to properly monitor and regulate development in the protected areas, so that it can be made, in “accordance with requirements of our watershed and our natural park.”*

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