DUMAGUETE CITY, June 27 – The Regional Technical Director for Forest Management Services, Dr. Isabelo Montejo, of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 7 has urged the local government unit of Sibulan in Negros Oriental and the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) to come up with a new co-management agreement for the geothermal preservation area at the twin Lakes of Balinsasayao.
The geothermal preservation area in Sibulan is under the management of the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) after it was privatized and was formerly known as the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC).
Part of the environmental preservation and conservation program of EDC is to properly manage and protect the surrounding forest near the geothermal sites.
According to Dr. Montejo, the EDC no longer has a legal personality over the said area because the co-management agreement was signed between the then PNOC and not with EDC. He said that the declaration of the geothermal preservation area is still effective but they have to sign a new co-management agreement with the EDC.
Dr. Montejo said the co-management agreement will be signed by EDC, the Sibulan local government and the Department of Energy.
The Forest Land Use Plan (FLUP) overseer of Sibulan, Connie Rosales, noted in a recent forum that they cannot effectively implement the FLUP program because of the existing co-management agreement with the former PNOC.
The municipality of Sibulan is supposedly one of the recipients of a P7-million grant from a German Bank-KFW but because of the existing co-management agreement with PNOC they were excluded among the lists of beneficiaries.
Rosales said it was clearly stated in the contract that the three signatories of the co-management agreement must sign for approval but because of the privatization scheme, the EDC management cannot sign the same as representative of PNOC.
Dr. Montejo said he will finalize all the legal documents at the DENR regional office in order to come up with a new co-management agreement with EDC, LGU and the DOE. (PNA) LAP/jfp/Maricar Aranas