“ACF Executive Director Gina Lopez and local government officials led by Brooke’s Point Mayor Narciso Leoncio violated the SEP Law, AO No. 6 in particular, when it developed the resort without first securing SEP clearances. ”
by Ducky Paredes
For occupying and converting Sabsaban Falls into an eco-tourism resort without clearance from the Palawan Council Sustainable Development (PCSD), charges have been filed against ABS-CBN Foundation (ACF) and 18 local government officials, PCSD Legal Chief Adel Belena said.
Belena said the ACF-Bantay Kalikasan, which occupied the falls within the timberland in Brookes’ Point, Palawan, converted the area into a resort in violation of Administrative Order No. 6. The case marked as Administrative Case 438 is now pending with the PCSD Adjudication Board (PAB).
AO No. 6 is the implementing rules and regulations for the RA 7611 otherwise known as the Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) for Palawan Act. The Order requires a SEP clearance for all projects affecting the environment and natural resources of Palawan including government projects.
The ACF should have secured an individual SEP clearance for occupation of Sabsaban Falls, development of the place, cutting of trees, construction of cottages and others, Belena explained.
Belena said ACF Executive Director Gina Lopez and local government officials led by Brooke’s Point Mayor Narciso Leoncio violated the SEP Law, AO No. 6 in particular, when it developed the resort without first securing SEP clearances.
Also charged with Lopez and Leoncio were ACF OIC James Adrian Bicaldo, DENR Community Officer Emelina Cojamco, Bgy. Ipilan Chairman Jonathan Lagrada and Kagawad Artizo Mandawa, Edgar Sadang, Jane Araullo, Wilfredo Rodriguez, Adelaido Cacacha, Melchor Inog and SK Chairman Joana Jane Enero.
Bgy. Aribungos Chairman Ratib Milosin and his Kagawad Nora Francisco, Elmer Sadang, Leonard Martinez, Sabtaine Abdulsattal, Renaldo Inso, Nashran Taha, Maylene Utalah and SK Chairman Inso, and Sister Xenia Mae Juanitas of the Missionaries Association of the Philippines.
Engr. Teodoro Baltazar, chief of the PCSD Enforcement Unit filed a formal complaint based on the report on the cutting of trees used in the project. Baltazar filed this with the PAB. Robert Paalan, a member of the Brooke’s Point Federation of Tribal Councils (BPFTC) provided the report.
The PAB is chaired by Alfredo Abueg, Jr. with former Palawan Vice Governor David Ponce de Leon, former Congressman Vicente Sandoval and PCSD Executive Director Romeo Dorado as members.
In the Administrative Case No. 438, Baltazar formally asked the Board to issue a cease and desist order against ACF until it has secured an SEP clearance from the PCSD.
Belena explained that the project is not the main concern in the complaint but the absence of SEP clearance for each of the activities undertaken by the ACF such as occupation of the Sabsaban Falls area, development of the resort, cutting of trees, construction of cottages and others.
In an earlier complaint filed with the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP), the BPFTC accused ACF of converting Sabsaban Falls into a resort without the required free and prior informed consent (FPIC) and certificate of pre-condition (CP).
A CP which the NCIP issues on the basis of an approved FPIC is among the requirements for SEP clearance.
Other requirements are social acceptability as certified by the indigenous people in the area in the form of an FPIC with endorsement from the local government units such as the barangays, municipal and provincial government.
Atty. Herminia Caabay, PCSD Legal Officer, said the memorandum of agreement between the ACF and the Municipality of Brooke’s Point does not take the place of an SEP clearance and the IP signatures do not supplant the FPIC as part of social acceptability.
* * *
There is a hare-brained scheme being promoted by a media outfit that would stop all mining. Period.
What will happen next is that small-scale mining, which is actually doing us the most harm will be the only mining that will continue. Because there will no longer be big mining, once the media giant gets its wish, mining will not stop but will only get worse because mining will then be uncontrolled. Heck, once we ban mining altogether, why would we even need a Bureau of Mines and Geodetic Sciences? So, who would then control the miners?
* * *
Sayang. Kabataan party-list Representative Raymond Palatino actually had the right idea. Now, however, has been persuaded to withdrawn his proposed measure banning religious ceremonies in government offices.
The young man even apologized for his sinful ways that led him to think that his House Bill (HB) 6330 was even a good idea. Palatino explains that he had no intention to “ban God.”
“The purpose of the bill is to ensure that government offices do not favor one religion over the other, or discriminates one against the other,” Palatino stressed.
In fact, he grovels: “Kabataan party-list sincerely apologizes for any offense the bill caused. We are sad that we hurt the religious sentiments of many, when our desire was to uphold and promote religious sensitivity and harmony.”
I personally have no quarrel with his HB 6330. In fact, I believe that this is a good idea.
Based on the proposed law, the display of religious symbols and religious exercises contradicts a provision of the Philippine Constitution, particularly the Separation of Church and State.
Those who are happy to have a marriage of State and Church are happy only as long as it is their religion. But, the world changes. I wonder how they would feel if it is no longer their religion that co-habits with the State. How would their past intolerance serve them then?
* * *
A P1.5 billion bus rapid transit (BRT) system planned for the EDSA-Ayala-Buendia/Taft route ought to be the way to go for all of Metro Manila.
When you’re stuck in traffic, count the number of busses that you can see and you will see what is really causing the problem.
The last time I did this, I counted 15 busses all going in the same direction. Clearly, this shows gross inefficiency and losses for all the bus companies. A bus stuck in traffic is not earning anything until it moves.
The ideal ought to be something like only one bus every 500 meters which stop only at designated bus stops in a regulated way — say, one every few minutes. Then, we would not be having our traffic problems on EDSA or even in Metro Manila.
Dave Balangao, president of the Makati Commercial Estate Association (MACEA) said at the launch of the “Make It Happen, Make It Makati” campaign that they are undertaking the project in partnership with the city’s largest property owner and developer Ayala Land Inc.
# # # #
hvp 06.25.12Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at email@example.com