• Civil groups’ help eyed vs owners of illegal structures


    BACOLOD CITY: The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office of Negros Occidental has urged civil society organizations (CSOs) and environment groups in the province to help it go after and prosecute owners of illegal structures inside the Northern Negros Natural Park (NNNP).

    Andres Untal told The Manila Times that as superintendent of the NNNP, he wants “to join hands with these groups to form [a]multisectoral enforcement task force without any clearance from the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB).”

    “I need to augment our information and education campaign through the proposed [task force]that can be mobilized immediately without needing a big budget,” Untal said.

    Under existing laws, the PENRO is authorized to organize a group involving CSOs “for detection and paralegal work,” he pointed out.

    The NNNP was established as a protected area under the NIPAS Framework on August 15, 2005 thru Proclamation  895 covering 80,454.50 hectares and falls within the political jurisdiction of the municipalities of E. B. Magalona, Murcia, Toboso, Calatrava and Don Salvador Benedicto and the cities of Talisay, Silay, Victorias, Cadiz, Sagay and San Carlos.

    The protected area forms part of the largest watershed of the province being the main source of water for 17 municipalities and cities.

    The past three years, the NNNP had been a controversial issue between government officials and environment groups over the existence of illegal structures.

    Records of the PENRO obtained by The Manila Times showed 120 illegal structures inside the protected area.

    Untal said the PAMB is not focused on enforcement.

    “We need the help of the CSOs in case documentation, detection and lobbying,” he added.

    Eugene Y. Adiong


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