The Lower House is now all agog over the consolidation of 21 bills to comprise the proposed Enhanced National Integrated Protected Area System Act (ENIPAS) that has additional provisions to the existing Republic Act (R.A.) 7586.
Once approved, the new law will repeal the latter.
Finding that some provisions of the bill are too restrictive, Rep. Erico Aristotle Aumentado (Bohol, 2ndÂ District) expressed strong opposition to and seeks the exclusion of the Talibon Group of Islands from the protected area.
The Talibon Groups of Islands was declared a Protected Landscape and Seascape in Proclamation 131 series of 1999 on July 5 of that year.
Aumentado said he does not want further restrictions on the islands and islets. The islanders, he said, are not evacuees, refugees or settlers but permanent residents whose forefathers were already born in the islands and islets themselves.
The bill proposes to impose fees on practically all activities people will do on the landscape and seascape provided they have the approval of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) and the Protected Area Supervisor (PASu). The approval, he said, will require time, money and effort before the islanders can fish, prune mangrove branches for firewood, gather seashells or plant seaweeds, among others, as these activities have impacts on the environment.
On top of the fees, the bill requires a buffer zone that, the solon said, might displace the residents.
Besides, he added, during the incumbency of his namesake father, immediate congressional predecessor and former governor Erico Boyles Aumentado, marine sanctuaries around the islands identified by the islanders with guidance from government agencies, were established.
Marine sanctuary or not, blast fishing is illegal as this destroys even the fingerlings and corals.
To counter this, the solon, even without Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), has been going around the islands identifying their livelihood needs and providing funds from government agencies like the departments of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The Coastal Law Enforcement Councils (CLEC) in Boholâ€™s three districts have been established. These may just need reorganizing and further funding to have the pump boats patrolling the coasts again to apprehend or deter fishermen using illegal methods.
The concept ba best practice approach to ensure sustainability of marine life that earned a Galing Pook Award for province during the governorship of the elder Aumentado.
The solon earlier filed a bill proposing amendments to the existing law. If the consolidated bill has restrictions that are too close for his comfort, , Aumentado said he will formally withdraw his co-authorship of the consolidated version.
To note, his island visits to distribute checks, bring medical missions or inaugurate school buildings double as his way of getting feedback directly from his constituents.Â (June S. Blanco)