House panel to declare some drylands in Camotes islands alienable, disposable

Published November 25, 2019, 7:17 AM

by Patrick Garcia

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

The House Committee on Natural Resources has approved a bill seeking to declare certain drylands of the public domain located in the islands Poro, Pacijan, and Ponson, known as the Camotes Group of Islands in Cebu, as alienable and disposable lands.

The Joint Session of the Senate and the House of Representatives on the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao commences in the Plenary of the Batasang Pambansa on December 13, 2017. (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN)

The House panel, chaired by Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, approved House Bill 4785, principally authored by Cebu Rep. Vincent Franco Frasco.

Frasco cited the need to lift Mangrove Swamps Forest Reserves declaration for the islands of Poro, Pacijan, and Ponson as provided for by Presidential Proclamation 2152 issued by then President Ferdinand Marcos on December 20, 1981.

He said while they appreciate the government’s intention to protect the islands, the 1981 proclamation ” causes more disadvantages rather than bring benefit for the people of Camotes Group of Islands and the general welfare.”

“Because of Presidential Proclamation No. 2152, the people of the islands have been deprived from developing their economy, establishing communities, attracting developers and investors, and getting what they rightfully deserve,” Frasco said.

He noted that even before the proclamation, the Camotes Group of Islands was already populated and developed, and that basic facilities in the form of government offices, concrete road network, ports, market buildings, water system, electricity and schools were already in place.

“It is, therefore, only fitting that the state declare certain drylands of the islands of Poro, Pacijan, and Ponson as alienable and disposable lands so that the communities that have been thriving there can finally enjoy land ownership,” the lawmaker said.

“This will also boost socio-economic viability of the islands and therefore, empower the community members to enrich their lives, maximize their resources, and reach their greatest potential, ” he added.

House Bill 4785 or the proposed Camotes Group of Islands Land Management, Protection and Reclassification Act provides that the Camotes Group of Islands composed of Poro, Pacijan, and Ponson shall be declared as alieanable and disposal land in certain areas for agricultural, commercial, residential and industrial and other purposes.

The bill mandates all the four municpalities constituting the Camotes Group of Islands to establish within 24 months an integrated network of marine protected areas for the conservation of fisheries resources and protection of the marine ecosystem within the islands.

It tasks the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the respective municipalities to keep an eye on the management of lands and natural resources found in Camotes.

Within six months after the effectivity of the proposed Act, the DENR Secretary, in consultation with the local government units of municipalities of Pilar, Tudela, Poro and San Francisco, the provincial government of Cebu, and concerned national government agencies, shall promulgate the implementing rules and regulations of the proposed Act.