Diggings in a mountain barangay perceived to be part of a treasure hunting expedition was categorically belied by Mayana, Jagna Barangay Captain (village chief) Servando Acas before the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) committee hearing on Tuesday, August 23, 2016 at the SP conference room.
Acas told members of the Committee on Natural Resources and Environmental Protection headed by Board Member Agapito Avenido together with Board Members Abeleon Damalerio and Ricky Masamayor, that the two ground excavations were part of the barangay efforts to provide for the water needs of the 2,235 residents in the 2nd most populated barangay in Jagna.
The hearing was prompted by a privilege speech delivered by Board Member Kristine Alexei Tutor, chairperson of the committee on tourism during the regular session of the SP on Friday, August 12, 2016 where she shared her apprehension on the state of the environment of the “Little Baguio” of Bohol.
Acas debunked the claims of his former worker, Ruel Macalam that he ordered the excavation of two 190 foot and 30 foot deep cavities in a property owned by a couple identified as Flaviano and Matiana Dagangon.
Macalam disclosed to the committee that Acas hired the services of 8 other workers including himself to dig holes allegedly as part of a treasure hunting exploration.
Although Acas admitted the diggings were done without the necessary excavation permits, he allowed the continuous boring of the holes as part of the village search for water and not treasure hunting as alleged by Macalam.
Macalam also told the committee that he had no knowledge of the cutting of trees to be used as timber support for the excavations to prevent its collapse.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) Nestor Canda, who was present during the committee hearing confirmed the existence of the diggings and ordered the stoppage of the excavations in 2015 since it put to risk the lives of residents living near the area.
The diggings as admitted by Acas had no permit from the DENR including the cutting of the trees, according to Canda.
Mayana, 17 kilometers from the town proper is known for its cool climate and is home to the Philippines second biggest centennial tree, a 195 yr. old narra (pterocarpus indicus) tree, the country’s national tree that measures 3.2m in diameter and 30m tall.
A producer of vegetables and flowers and a producer of the banana bongan variety, Mayana is one of the four Jagna barangays under the Alejawan-Cansuhay-Anibongan River Watershed Forest Reserve.
Tutor was on an ocular inspection of tourist spots in the province when she was alarmed by her discovery of the excavations which she regarded as a serious threat to the environment of Mayana.
Jagna municipal councilor Teofisto Pagar, Jr. and former Mayana Barangay Captain Sofronio Galano were invited by the committee as resource persons. (Chito M. Visarra and Rey Tutas)