The Local Government Units of Loon and Maribojoc questioned the administrative order of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) declaring the uplifted seabed as geological monument, considering that the extension of the shoreline formed abruptly as a result of the October 2013 earthquake.
The Sangguniang Bayan (SBs) of the two municipalities in which the new dry land spans expressed objection to the DENR administrative order, citing that it had been formulated without public consultations with the locales.
Maribojoc Mayor Leoncio Evasco Jr. calls the administrative order unjust and unfair as it did not go through public consultation, criticizing Gov. Edgar Chatto who he says was the initiative behind the declaration.
Loon Mayor Lloyd Lopez, for his part, said he agreed with the protection of the geological phenomenon but opposes the classification as a geological monument, because it restricts the concerned LGUs from utilizing the area in terms of economic gain especially as the coastline had been a source of livelihood of the locales.
Lopez said LGU Loon is in the midst of a master plan for the conservation and management of the uplifted area after a municipal ordinance was passed in 2014, establishing it as a geological conservation park and creating a management council for it.
However, the DENR administrative order hampered the master plan.
The two LGUs, however, also proposed to be given an opportunity for an executive meeting with Chatto, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and the DENR to resolve the issue.
Provincial Administrator Alfonso Damalerio II, on behalf of the governor who was in Cebu for a conference, welcomed the idea of discussing the issueâ€”emphasizing that the Chatto-Lim administration prides on the principle of transparency and public consultation.
Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member Abel Damalerio, chair of the SP Committee on Environment, for his part, said he will bring up the concern during their regular on Friday.
The SP member said a unique and new phenomenon such as the uplifted area will also require a new way of looking into its protection, preservation, and management.
Chatto had written to President Benigno Aquino III, requesting a presidential proclamation to declare the uplifted area as public land.
If declared a geological monument, the uplifted area will be second to be declared as such in the province, next to the world famous Chocolate Hills.
The uplifted area surfaced as an effect of the magnitude 7.2 earthquake on October 15, 2013.
Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Nestor Canda assuage fears of Local Government Units of Loon and Maribojoc on the DENR Administrative Order declaring the uplifted coast of Loon and Maribojoc as a geological monument.
In a meeting with Gov. Edgar Chatto, together withÂ Loon Mayor Lloyd Lopez, SP Committee Chair on Environment Abel Damalerio, Provincial Administrator Ae Damalerio, Provincial Legal Officer Atty. Boloy Boiser, SEEM Cluster Head Liza Quirog, and BEMO representative Loloy Lafuente, Canda explained that the administrative order is a policy statement to protect and preserve the uplifted area.
This policy statement, he said signals the start of the process that will lead up to the Presidential Proclamation, which will indicate the classification that the uplifted area will be under.
Canda further explained that under the DENR, lands can be classified as Alienable and Disposable (A&D), timber, mineral, or park.
The administrative order merely sets in motion the entire process of classifying the land, which requires hearings and public consultations, in the determination of the classification that the uplifted area will be under and will be defined in the Presidential Proclamation.
Chatto, who had just arrived from a Department of Health conference in Cebu, put as first order of business the concern regarding the DENR administrative order, affirming Candaâ€™s statement.
The governor explained that the identification ofÂ landsÂ according to theirÂ legal classificationÂ is done throughÂ aÂ Presidential proclamation or a lawÂ duly enacted by Congress.
This is not a local government function, thus the need for the administrative order to jumpstart the consultations which will be coordinated with the DENR.
Loon Mayor Lloyd Lopez welcomed this explanation, also citing the bill that Cong. Rene Relampagos is sponsoring in Congress. House Bill No. 5128 seeks to declare the increased elevation of land, also known as anâ€œupthrust,â€ in the municipality of Loon, Bohol, as a National Geological Monument.
Lopez had earlier stated that he agrees to the protection and preservation of the geological phenomenon but brought to the table the need to hold the executive meeting that the Joint Session of the councils of Loon and Maribojoc resolved.
A joint meeting is being set, inviting the Provincial Government, the LGUs of Loon and Maribojoc, with the DENR Regional Office presiding over discussions to clarify the nature of the administrative order.
Chatto said what is important in the discussions that will follow is the vision of both Maribojoc and Loon for their localities, vis-Ã -vis thrusts of the Provincial Government and the DENR mandate.