The local government units (LGUs) of Loon and Maribojoc aim for dominance over the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in utilizing the uplifted seabed spanning their shorelines, considering that the area originally belongs to them when it was still municipal seawaters.
Loon Mayor Lloyd Lopez explained that his town welcomes the department administrative order (DAO) of DENR declaring 137 hectares of the 458-hectare uplifted seabed as geological monument, but there should be amendment.
The DENR should amend the coverage from 137 to only around 27 hectares or 20 percent of it and leave 80 percent of it to the LGUs, according to Lopez.
Only 20 percent of the 137 hectares shouldÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â be declared a park or geological monument and the rest should be classified as alienable and disposable (A and D) so that the municipalities or whoever is qualified can utilize it for facilities that will support tourism.
It the entire 137 hectares will be geological monument, it would be considered public land, and no tourism facility would then be allowed in there, according te Lopez.
Then the two municipalities would be given special use patent to facilitate it.
The mayor said it is sad that the area which used to be municipal waters allocated with funds by the LGUs for its protection would just become under the control of the national government.
DENR made the Constitution as reference for provisions that all public land anywhere in the country will be under the exclusive jurisdiction of the DENR, that it is DENR that will manage and dispose the area through the secretary.
It can also be cited that the Public Land Act also provides that all public landsâ€”those without land owners yetâ€”will be managed by the DENR through the secretary, or through Presidential Proclamation or legislation, Lopez added.
He, however, emphasized that the Constitution and the Public Land Act apply on lands already existing prior to the laws.
On this, the parameters for the uplifted seabed needs a new law that governs the dry land that formed after movement of the earthâ€™s crust like an earthquake or landslide, according to the mayor.
He said that defining the mode of acquisition of these areas as properties could be introduced as amendment to the Civil Code, and such phenomenon as uplifted seabed should become legal entity that can be acquired by any individual or any juridical body.
Lopez said the President should understand that the towns incurred annual economic loss of P198 million since the once 458 hectares of seawaters turned into a dry land, depriving the fisherfolk of the usual income, based on a study by UP expert that he had read in the internet.
The 494 fishermen should be given alternative livelihood and through a special use patent, the two LGUs can undertake projects that can generate work, income and economic development for the affected sectors.
Even the entire Bohol can benefit from it once the area will be developed into additional tourist attraction.
This is in line with the thrust of the provincial government to find additional tourist attractions to increase the tourist influx, according to Lopez.
On the part of Maribojoc Mayor Leoncio Evasco Jr., the LGU and DENR already signed a memorandum of agreement years ago on the drafting of the Forest Land Use Plan (FLUP) for the town.
The DAO affects the coverage of the MOA.