Thursday , 18 April 2024

Frasco eyes seat in PAMB

Left in the dark over the controversial resorts built within the periphery of the Chocolate Hills in Sagbayan, Bohol, a declared protected park, Tourism Secretary Ma.Esperanza  Christina Garcia- Frasco asked to have a seat in the Protected Area Management Board of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to prevent a recurrence of such controversies that would affect the country’s tourism program.

”On the national level, since PAMB is a creation of law and DOT is not a part of PAMB, we are lobbying for legislation to amend its composition to include the DOT so it may give its insights and guidance on sustainable tourism development for protected areas,” Frasco said on Thursday at the meeting of Bohol provincial officials.

RA  11038, or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act, PAMB is composed of nongovernmental organizations, local governments, and officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agriculture, National Economic Development Authority, Department of Science and Technology, Philippine National Police and Department of National Defense.

If included in the board, Frasco said the DOT could provide inputs on the protection and preservation of the country’s protected areas, particularly in tourism destinations like Bohol, which is the country’s first-ever Global Geopark recognized by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

“As we leave the investigations and regulatory movements to both the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the DENR, we felt that it was incumbent upon us in the Department of Tourism to reach out to you to let you know that our partnership for tourism shall continue,” Inquirer quoted Frasco telling Gov. Erico Aristotle Aumentado.

Aumentado said that the Bohol government would establish a new committee tasked to oversee and review guidelines on matters related to investments and initiatives that would not compromise the environment and protected areas.

The DOT, in a statement, said that the controversial Captain’s Peak Resort was not accredited by the department and did not have a pending application for the same.

Following the closure of the establishment, Frasco said the DOT would offer alternative livelihood training programs and tour guiding kits for the affected workers.

The Captain’s Peal Resort, which has hosted several local and national events in sports, local government and education thereby signifying the government’s tacit recognition of the resort (which later turned out to be devoid of an environmental compliance certificate from the DENR and other permits/licenses)–  has been ordered closed by DENR.

It had been declared a protected area by the late former President Fidel V. Ramos in 1997 but Captain’s Peak was built in 2019.

Through a resolution, the DENR– the department mandated to conserve and preserve all protected areas and parks– was behind the illegal structure, through PAMB, which environmentalists claimed, had an “unlawful” policy allowing the use of 20 percent of the Chocolate HGills and other protected areas and parks of the country for development.

No wonder, another report published by OpinYon last March 19 indicated that illegal structures also abound in the Mt. Apo protected area.

“The DENR-PAMB resolution allowing the development of up to 20 percent of the Chocolate Hills is illegal as it violates Proclamation No. 1037 in 1997 of the late former President Fidel Ramos, which established the Hills and areas within, around and surrounding Chocolate Hills as protected areas,”  said a statement of Tagbilaran Baywatch, a watchdog for sustainable coastal development.

The resolution provides that “function hall and all other infrastructure should be erected and/or constructed within the 20 percent area from the base of the hill, which is considered as multiple use zone following the sustainable infrastructure design, in accordance with the guidelines of DAO 2009-09.”

Tagbilaran Baywatch, which is also responsible for blocking the planned reclamation of the city’s narrow sea channel, said the resolution should be revoked by the DENR-PAMB and demanded the permanent closure and demolition of the structures of the resort.

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