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For "encroaching" into natural park: PENRO stops 2 mayors, 38 others

Marchel P. Espina (The Freeman) - March 14, 2014 - 12:00am

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines —  The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) has served this week cease and desist orders against two mayors and 38 other personalities for allegedly encroaching into the 107.77-hectare of the protected zone of the Northern Negros Natural Park (NNNP).

Rose Pablico, head of the Protected Areas, Wildlife and Coastal Zone Management Services of PENRO confirmed that Mayors Jose Max Ortiz of Don Salvador Benedicto and Andrew Montelibano of Murcia town, along with 38 others, were told to stop building structures in the protected zone of  the NNNP.

Pablico said the illegal occupants were informed to attend the Technical Conference on March 25, at the Kadiwa Center, this city. She said "they will be informed on the violations they committed. This is not a threat; we just want them to be aware that the area is a protected zone."

Ortiz, for his part, said he has yet to receive the copy of the order, but he clarified that he welcomed the move of the PENRO.

"We have to sit down and resolve the issue because this is not a simple matter, the mayor said, though, he questioned why Don Salvador Benedicto is being singled out since there are also other areas, like in Patag, Silay City, that also encroached into the NNNP's protected zone.

Montelibano also questioned why he was being singled out since there are many other illegal occupants in the area. He however said he will comply with the order if  it comes from the PENRO, otherwise, he won't.

Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. said there are no sacred cows in the order. "Ally or not, if they encroached on the protected area, they should keep out," he said, while insisting that these people should stop the construction of structures on the protected zone.

Meanwhile, provincial legal officer Jose Maria Valencia, chided the public officials served with the order. "How can you expect ordinary individuals to comply with the laws when those who are tasked to implement and protect the laws are the first ones to violate?"

He added, "I think it's immaterial to say that those who are not supporters of  the governor were singled out." (FREEMAN)

DON SALVADOR BENEDICTO JOSE MARIA VALENCIA KADIWA CENTER MAYORS JOSE MAX ORTIZ OF DON SALVADOR BENEDICTO AND ANDREW MONTELIBANO OF MURCIA NEGROS OCCIDENTAL GOVERNOR ALFREDO MARA NORTHERN NEGROS NATURAL PARK PROTECTED PROTECTED AREAS PROVINCIAL ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES OFFICE ROSE PABLICO
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