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DENR manages foreshore areas, not LGUs

By Leonardo V. Micua

DAGUPAN CITY, Nov. 29 — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is the government agency mandated by law to manage all foreshore areas throughout the country.

This was stressed by Raymundo Gayo, officer-in-charge of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Dagupan City, belying insinuation that it is the local government units (LGUs) that have a hand on these. <P>Gayo was responding to questions from the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) on who really owns the foreshore land in Dagupan now occupied by hundreds of informal settlers.

Gayo was invited by the SP here on Monday to shed light on several illegal structures, some of which are operating as resorts, inns and spas along the foreshore land in sitio Silungan, Barangay Bonuan Binloc in Dagupan City.

“As far as the management of the foreshore land is concerned, it is the DENR which has the sole responsibility,” said Gayo, when queried on the matter by Vice Mayor Belen Fernandez, chair of the SP.

Gayo said the foreshore area is outside the 2.5 hectares portion of the 72-hectare Tondaligan National Park covered by Proclamation No. 98 issued in 1964 by then President Diosdado Macapagal which the Dagupan SP wanted earlier to be segregated for distribution to some 80 occupants of the Bliss Housing Project.

He said this means that any area outside the 2.5 hectare Bliss Housing project, particularly those in front of it, is a foreshore area under the management of the DENR.

Once the DENR approves the segregation of the 2.5 hectare portion of the national park, it will seek the amendment of Proclamation No. 98 and the land will automatically come under the administration of the city government for distribution to the present occupants of the Bliss Housing Project.

The SP is, however, puzzled because the owners of the structures built along the foreshore land or outside the area sought to be segregated from the national park, under management of DENR, were able to secure waivers from Mayor Benjamin Lim for the purpose of securing electrical connection from the Dagupan Electric Corporation.

The waiver states that the occupant/s constructed a residential house made of light materials “on a lot owned by the City Government of Dagupan at Sitio Silunga (sec), Barangay Bonuan Binloc, Dagupan City.”

An official of Decorp said there were 112 structures in the area extended electrical connection, 64 of which were given electrical connection based on the mayor’s waivers, 36 with mayor’s waivers attaching therewith certifications from the barangay captains and 12 others were issued certificates of final electrical inspection from the city engineering office.

Gayo agreed to the invitation of the SP for CENRO to join in an ocular inspection of the foreshore area occupied by informal settlers on December 5, along with Decorp.

He said records of his office showed that it did not issue any permit to any one of the informal settlers to occupy the foreshore area.

The SP is verifying reports that a big land syndicate, in collusion with corrupt barangay and city officials, parceled the foreshore land into lots then sold "rights" at still undetermined amount to alleged buyers which are now occupying the area. (PNA)

LDV/lvmicua/rma

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