THE National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) is urged to conduct an interagency dialogue to address concerns pertaining to environment protection in Negros Occidental especially of the Northern Negros Natural Park (NNNP).
Group of Environmental Socialist (Goes) Convenor Randy James Rojo, in a letter dated June 8 this year, requested for the assistance of NAPC secretary Atty. Noel Kinazo Felongco to call for a meeting with various concerned agencies.
These include the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Agriculture (DA) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), among others.
Rojo said environmental advocates in the province, through the years, have been calling the attention of the DENR on the rampant illegal structures maintained inside the NNNP mostly in parts of Salvador Benedicto, Barangay Patag in Silay City, and Campuestohan in Talisay City.
“The continuous degradation of the NNNP by the rich and powerful environmental violators in Negros, which are being tolerated by the mostly corrupt and inept DENR officials all these years have, in fact, significantly contributed to the destruction of the province’s forest cover,” he added.
The group, in its letter to NAPC, said the request for an interagency dialogue is of extreme urgency and is solely made to protect the constitutional rights of the inhabitants of the province.
“May we request such conference with you (Felongco) and the other agencies concerning this matter within 10 days from your receipt of this letter or at your convenient date,” it said.
Goes, along with the Door Step to New Life Foundation Inc. (Door Step), earlier sought for a Congressional inquiry on the same concerns.
The groups also asked the assistance of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) - Negros Occidental Chapter in prosecuting environmental violators.
They cited that structures like rest houses, farms, view decks and resorts continue to operate within the protected areas of the NNNP.
For Rojo, the unabated and worsening environmental violations in the NNNP continue to erode the Negros inhabitants’ constitutional rights to health and balanced and healthful ecology guaranteed by Sections 15 and 16 Article II of the Philippine Constitution.
If not prevented, it would continue to cause environmental damage of such magnitude prejudice to the life and health of the Negrenses, he added.