NEGROS Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. and Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson reiterated their opposition to the proposed geo-scientific study of geothermal producer Energy Development Corp. (EDC) in the Northern Negros Natural Park (NNNP).
The joint statement released Wednesday was signed by Marañon and Lacson.
They stated that the reason for their opposition is that the proposed geo-scientific study of EDC in NNNP is “not in consonance” with the Presidential Proclamation No. 895, declaring the area covered by Northern Negros Forest Reserve situated in the cities of Talisay, Silay, Victorias, Cadiz, Sagay and San Carlos and the municipalities of E.B. Magalona, Murcia, Toboso, Calatrava, and Salvador Benedicto as a “protected area.”
The top provincial officials added that their basis was laid down by the law, as they cited PP No. 895, which stated that NNNP “shall be managed in accordance with the provisions of the National Integrated Protected Areas System (Nipas) Act and its implementing rules and guidelines.”
The statement also pointed out that Section 14 of Republic Act 7586, or the Nipas, stated that “protected areas, except strict nature reserves and natural parks, may be subjected to exploration only for the purpose of gathering information on energy resources.”
It added that the revised IRR of RA 7586 also stated that “exploration for utilization of energy resources shall not be allowed in strict nature reserve and natural park categories.”
“Granting for the sake of argument, that the geo-scientific study of EDC is not tantamount to exploration, it is a futile act to conduct a geo-scientific study on geothermal prospect in NNNP since even if the area is positive for energy resources, the Nipas Law does not allow exploration for utilization of energy resources in natural park,” the two officials said.
They said that allowing EDC to conduct a geo-scientific study on Mount Mandalagan Geothermal Prospect in NNNP is a “direct contravention” of the laws, adding that “the act that allows such activity within the NNNP is an ultra vires act, thus, illegal and not valid.”
Moreover, Marañon and Lacson appealed to the mayors of the concerned component local government units and the Protected Area Management Board of NNNP to uphold the laws governing the NNNP.