Rep Rene L. Relampagos has filed a bill seeking to exempt the islands of Cabilao and Sandingan in the municipality of Loon, province of Bohol, from the coverage of the protected areas under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992.
House Bill No. 6192 seeks to amend the NIPAS Act, specifically on limiting the â€œprotected areas,â€ in Cabilao and Sandingan Islands, to the actual mangrove areas and the natural lake where migratory birds are seen and unique marine species are found. The island of Cabilao has a total area of 766 hectares while the island of Sandingan has a total area of 569 hectares. However, only the barangay of Canigaan and a portion of Calayugan of Sandingan Island and Lake Danao in Barangay Pantudlan of Cabilao Island have actual mangroves worthy to be protected and covered under the NIPAS Act. A big percentage of these islands remain agricultural, residential and with very few commercial establishments.
Rep. Relampagos explained, â€œIt is quite unreasonable to include the entire two islands as protected areas when only a portion qualifies for protection. For the longest time, these islands have remained idle and unproductive. Once reclassified, it will open the opportunity for tourism, business and economic developments as the proposed amendment will necessarily lift the ban in the titling of lots situated in both islands.â€
â€œThe municipality of Loon is viewed as an emerging giant in Boholâ€™s eco-cultural tourism industry, being blessed with bountiful natural resources such as natural lakes, waterfalls and mangrove gardens and with the development of an international cruise port in Catagbacan,â€ Relampagos stressed.
He added, however, that these gains will not be sustained if we will prevent the people of Bohol from developing the lands covered by the NIPAS Act. â€œThe government should correct the delineation of these protected areas because only a few portions of the islands have actual mangroves.â€
With the steady influx of tourists in Bohol, the local government of Loon recognizes the need to keep up with the strong demands of the industry in order to sustain progress and development which can only be done if given the opportunity to explore and develop said islands.
Like Panglao, these islands will undoubtedly be hailed as one of the countryâ€™s major tourist destinations and another addition to Philippinesâ€™ pride as it boasts of beautiful diving spots, among others. â€œPanglao was once included in the list of â€˜protected areasâ€™ but had been delineated due to its value in tourism,â€ the solon recalled.
â€œThe imposition of the ban in the titling of lots in the two islands has become greatly disadvantageous to the lot owners, prejudicial to the welfare of its constituents, and counter productive to the economic development of the province. I am confident that passage of this measure will greatly boost Boholâ€™s tourism activity,â€ he concluded.