Thursday, December 02, 2021

Hope for survivors in Bantayan, Camotes

A DRAFT presidential proclamation is being finalized to re-classify timberland and protected areas in the islands of Camotes and Bantayan.

This is to facilitate resettlement sites in areas greatly affected by super typhoon Yolanda last year, said Undersecretary Leslie Jeanne Cordero of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery.

In the early 1980s, then president Ferdinand Marcos declared these areas as mangrove and forest reserves. Reclassifying these lots to alienable and disposable is one of the major requirements for titling, the first step in building relocation sites.

Under review

Cordero said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) are reviewing the final guidelines of the draft.

She made the announcement during last Friday’s formal commemoration of Yolanda, and 10 days after President Benigno Aquino approved a P14.5-billion fund for Yolanda-affected areas in northern Cebu.

Of the amount, P8 billion is earmarked for resettlement, one of four clusters of the National Government’s Yolanda Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (CRRP), Cordero said.

With the National Housing Agency (NHA) as the implementing agency for building houses in resettlement areas, the authority earlier expressed apprehension over lots in Bantayan (Bantayan, Madridejos and Sta. Fe) and Camotes (Pilar, Poro and San Francisco), as these are still classified timberland and forest reserve.

Lots in these areas cannot be titled and the Commission on Audit prohibits government projects on untitled lots.

Executive Order 44

Also, NHA wants to buy the properties at a lower price, local chief executives said in an earlier interview.
The entire islands of Camotes and Bantayan are classified as timberland. Municipal buildings, health centers and public markets there sit on untitled lots.

Last Oct. 28, Aquino established a “one-stop for resettlement” through Executive Order 44, which streamlines the process of issuing permits, certifications, clearances and licenses for housing and resettlement projects in areas devastated by the super typhoon.
Cordero said the executive order will complement fast processing of lot titles.

At present, a joint memorandum circular delineating safe, unsafe and controlled zones is being implemented.

“With hazards maps and this joint-memo circular tabangan unta sa mga mayor ang pag-enforce sa no-build zones,” said Cordero.

The joint-memo circular is signed by secretaries of the DENR, DOST, the Department of National Defense, Department of Interior and Local Government and the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Some P167.86 billion is required for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of 171 cities and municipalities spread in 14 provinces in six regions.
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