‘Massive encroachment in forest reaches 100 ha.’
By EUGENE ADIONG
BACOLOD City — “Massive encroachment” into the Northern Negros Natural Park (NNNP) has reached 100 hectares, Provincial Legal Officer Jose Ma. Valencia said yesterday, citing “raw information.”
It has reached not only Don Salvador Benedicto town but also Calatrava and Brgy. Canlusong, EB Magalona, Valencia said.
He said the reported massive encroachment of the protected area was puzzling. “Violations of environment laws used to be limited to illegal logging,” he said.
But such reports, which also tagged prominent personalities in the province, remain unconfirmed. “I have instructed the TFI (Task Force Ilahas) operatives to verify these reports,” said Valencia.
It is only recently that the task force has discovered that many people have occupied NNNP properties, bought stewardship agreements and built structures, he said.
Valencia said the Provincial Legal Office has assigned some of the environment-related cases they are handling to the Provincial Environment Management Office. They cannot handle all of them, he said.
He also denied that the task force was singling out personalities who are not supporters of Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. “The governor has not interfered with the activities of the (task force),” he stressed.
Valencia assured that the task force will not hesitate to recommend the filing of charges against environmental law violators, may they be Marañon supporters or not.
Also, it seems that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has not taken an active role in this matter, he said./PN