Palawan dads slam DENR on El Nido crackdown

By Celeste Anna Formoso

April 11, 2018, 12:29 pm

<p><strong>BEAUTIFUL SUNSET.</strong> This sunset photo was taken in Barangay Corong-Corong, El Nido, one of the barangays where business establishments have been issued eviction notices for alleged illegal occupancy of timberland areas. <em>(Photo by Cecilia R. Formoso)</em></p>

BEAUTIFUL SUNSET. This sunset photo was taken in Barangay Corong-Corong, El Nido, one of the barangays where business establishments have been issued eviction notices for alleged illegal occupancy of timberland areas. (Photo by Cecilia R. Formoso)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan -- Members of Palawan’s Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincial board) have criticized the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) over the 30-day notice of eviction it issued to an initial list of 79 establishments for violating the government-prescribed easement zone.

They said the campaign to clean up the town’s timberland areas of alleged illegally constructed establishments, which included the El Nido National High School (ENNHS), is unfair since the DENR itself issued the documents and permits.

Board Member David Francis Ponce de Leon, in a privilege speech during a regular session on Tuesday, said the high school has been operating "since time immemorial," along with other establishments.

“The ENNHS was included in the list and there are establishments here too, that have been there since time immemorial, and the DENR was among the government agencies that issued them permits,” Ponce de Leon said.

He said it seems ironic that the DENR, which issued the permits to the resorts, schools, and other facilities, is now asking them to vacate.

Ponce de Leon further said that the 30-day deadline is unreasonable, considering the reality that establishment owners obtained their permits after passing through protocol and proper channels.

“If you’re the resort owner, why are you only given 30 days to vacate, when in fact, you passed through the proper channels? The LGU issued you business permit, the PCSD (Palawan Council for Sustainable Development) issued and signed clearances, then you are being told to vacate?” he said.

On the other hand, Board Member Winston Arzaga claimed that the map the DENR is using to issue the eviction notices is old, classifying Barangay Corong-Corong as a forest land.

Arzaga noted that the village is now highly-developed, and that some establishment owners are occupying areas that have land titles.

“They have no right to be there as it is a forest land, but the thing is, there are certain areas in Corong-Corong that are covered by titles,” he said, accusing the DENR of being responsible for what is going on as it issued land titles.

"Who is responsible for issuing those titles? It's the DENR," Arzaga said.

He said the El Nido municipal government should also be blamed for allegedly issuing the permits for the construction of the structures.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan has agreed to invite next Tuesday the officials of the DENR and the Department of the Interior and Local Government to discuss the issues in El Nido. (PNA)

Comments