Cease, desist order slapped vs Murcia mayor

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Friday, March 7, 2014


THE Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro) issued a cease and desist order against Murcia Mayor Andrew Montelibano for the construction of his structure at Spur 20, Barangay Bunga of the neighboring Salvador Benedicto town.

In the order dated March 3, Andres Untal, Penro officer-in-charge, said that Montelibano's occupied area "is within the North Negros Natural Park (NNNP).

"It has been observed that the mode of acquisition is illegally acquired and the same, the construction of illegal structures inside the protected area is in violation of sub-section 20.f and 20.g under section 20 of Republic Act No.7586 or the National Integrated Protected Area System Act of 1992," Untal said.

The order further stated that, "considering that occupying and introducing structures within the protected area without Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) clearance or tenurial instrument is an act contrary to law."

The order also bars the mayor from introducing improvements in the said area.

"Failure to cease the construction of illegal structures in the occupied area will be deemed on your part as a defiance of the aforestated law wherein this office will be construed to file appropriate legal sanction through our PAMB," Untal said in the order.

For his part, Montelibano said that he will "abide by the order if it is issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources."

"If the order is from the Provincial Government I will not follow it as they have no authority," the mayor said, adding that he is also waiting for the provincial government to file charges against him.

Provincial Legal Officer Jose Maria Valencia said that appropriate complaint could be filed before the Office of the Ombudsman against a government official who would not comply with the CDO.

Valencia said that no one is being singled out in the Task Force Ilahas's report that was subjected to verification because the fact is that they have filed several cases in court already involving several individuals relative to their encroachment to the forested areas.

"We have verified the report of the Task Force Ilahas considering that it involve names of big personalities," he added.

On the part of the Municipal Government of Salvador Benedicto, Mayor Jose Max Ortiz said that they have met with about 50 stakeholders in the said areas to resolve the matter.

He said several individuals most of them lawyers have acquire parcels of land in the area.

He said that it so happened that Task Force Ilahas spotted Montelibano's structure at the highest hilly portion of the area covered by the reforestation project of the government.

The controversy could be a blessing in disguise to resolve the issue, Ortiz said.

He noted that of the total political boundary of the town only three barangays namely, Pandanon, Kumaliskis and Igmayaan are titled while the rest of the barangays have no title or are classified as forestal areas.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 07, 2014.

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