The City Environment and Natural Resources Office (City ENRO) in Puerto Princesa City warned the public that transactions involving the selling of parcels of land located in Sitio Bucana, Barangay Iwahig this City are illegitimate considering that these are within Presidential Proclamation and not subject to disposition.
Atty. Carlo B. Gomez, City Environment and Natural Resources Officer explained that the public should be careful with these bogus transactions considering that unscrupulous individuals are taking advantage of a parcel of land within Proclamation 718 while portions of the mangroves in the area have been also occupied, therefore, causing destruction of the city’s coastal resources.
In 2004, then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Proclamation No. 718 by segregating portions of the Iwahig Penal Colony in Palawan and declaring the same as Civil Reservation for Resettlement and Agricultural Sites purposes. The area covered a total of 14,394,686 square meters or 1,439 hectares consisting of two lots. Lot 1 is situated in Sitio Malamig and Sitio Bucana in Iwahig, while Lot 2 is situated in Sitio Tagbarungis in Barangay Inagawan Sub.
The land subjected for disposition in the alleged spurious transactions are within the Presidential Proclamation 718, formerly part of the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm (IPPF). The Proclamation’s intention is to award land to indigent and landless local residents in Puerto Princesa City however it turned out to be problematic because the proclamation was not properly implemented.
Several individuals who are occupying mangrove areas in Sitio Bucana have alleged that a certain Danilo Malonzo, president of an association known as Palawan Landless and Farmers Association allowed them to erect their houses within the mangrove areas.
In an interview with some informal settlers within the area, Jonah Escubin claimed that she paid P1,000 to Malonzo before her family erected a house some years ago. Vevincia Reyes, who is an informal settler in the area said that she paid a membership fee of P1,000 and after paying she was allowed to erect a house in a 200-square meter area in the mangrove areas, this despite the fact that mangroves are excluded from disposition.
The exclusion of mangroves and swampy areas is clearly stated in the Proclamation since the cutting, gathering and utilization of all natural resources within the proclaimed site shall be subject to the existing laws and regulations.
“Any mangrove and/or swampy areas, found inside the area, is hereby segregated from the coverage of this proclamation and should not be disturbed nor alienated. Existing laws, rules, and regulations affecting salvage zones and foreshore areas shall be strictly enforced. As such, the forty (40) meter easement shall be maintained as open area environmental protection,” the Proclamation reads.
In 2020, the then City Police Director, Col. Marion Balonglong was figured in a mangrove occupation in Sitio Bucana which an estimated 3 hectares of mangrove forest have been cleared.
The discovery of the mangrove destruction caused by the police officer’s illegal occupation has opened the pandora’s box about the painful truth of the present condition of the mangrove ecosystem in Bucana, Barangay Iwahig as well as some other mangrove areas in the city. Stripped, removed, denuded, intruded and occupied by informal settlers and other forms of activities.
In the recent meeting of the Enforcement Committee of the Puerto Princesa City-Environmental Protection Task Force (EPTF) presided by OIC-CENR Officer Pedro Velasco of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Alex Hermoso, head of the Drive Against Professional Squatters and Squatting Syndicates (DAPSASS) informed that several informal settlers have started building structures in areas vacated by some local residents during demolition by the City Government two years ago. Atty. Gomez moved that EPTF should recommend to the Council Against Squatting Syndicate and Professional Squatters (CASSAPS) for the issuance of a dismantling order so that the DAPSASS could proceed with the dismantling and demolition of informal settlers in Sitio Bucana.
Atty. Gomez has urged decision-makers including legislators, political leaders, and heads of different agencies of the government to incorporate environmental factors in their decisions, otherwise, it might cause environmental destruction and degradation.
The City Government of Puerto Princesa is determined to rid the mangrove areas of informal settlers. The city’s coastal and natural resources and its rich biodiversity especially in the coastal area have been compromised due to the uncontrolled illegal occupation in the mangrove area.
Discussion about this post