Court issues permanent protection order for watershed

A WATERSHED between Mankayan, Benguet, and Tadian in Mountain Province has been issued a permanent protection order in a bid to preserve what is left of its resources.

Tadian Mayor Anthony Wooden wrote Director Ralph Pablo of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to ask for help in initiating cancellation proceedings for the free patents issued over the area and in filing contempt charges against those who continue to ignore the court order.

Last year, Branch 35 of the Regional Trial Court in Bontoc, Mountain Province issued a temporary protection order over the watershed after six barangay captains of Tadian petitioned the courts to stop the encroachment of vegetable farms in the area.

Judge Joseph Patnaan tasked Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office Mountain Province, City Environment and Natural Resources Office Sabangan (Cenro), Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office and mayor of Tadian to monitor and prohibit farming, clearing activities or cutting of trees within the said watershed area and to a quarterly report to the court about what they have done. The courts also ordered the planting of trees in the area.

"The Temporary Environmental Protection Order earlier issued is hereby made permanent and private respondents are ordered to cease and desist from planting, tilling and cultivating their farms, and to cooperate in the reforestation of the cultivated and denuded areas," Patnaan's order read.

The vegetable farmers argued the land they are using is covered with titles and is within the territory of Mankayan town.

In their petition, the six barangay captains said the contested area supplies water for domestic use of barangays Dacudac, Lenga, Cadad-anan, Pandayan, Banaao and Cagubatan, known as the Sunnyside barangays of Tadian.

The six barangay captains of each barangays of Tadian asked the courts to issue a protection order against vegetable farming activities within their watershed.

They said the clearing and cutting of trees to give way to vegetable gardens within their watershed adversely affects their water source.

They added that the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers poses threat not just to the environment but to the health of the people.

Gregory Dulaycan, Land Management Officer of Cenro Sabangan who was assigned to conduct a survey of the disputed area found in his 2015 survey the area is within a forestland and is not alienable.

He further found the parcel of land in Barangay Lenga falls within the undisputed territory of Tadian while the portions of land in Barangay Madalipey, Cadad-anan partly falls within disputed area between Tadian and Bauko towns of Mountain Province and partly within disputed area between Tadian and Mankayan town of Benguet.

Dulaycan also found a portion of the forest in Bellang falls within the disputed area between Tadian and Mankayan.
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