Sen. Bato to check DENR progress on resorts at Mt Apo buffer zones

Sen. Bato to check DENR progress 
on resorts at Mt Apo buffer zones
Photo from DENR-Davao

Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa affirms that he will follow up with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on the issue of resorts established near the buffer zones of Mount Apo.

In an ambush interview with the media on Friday afternoon, June 28, 2024, at SM Ecoland, Dela Rosa said that he intends to check on DENR's progress regarding the resorts situated at the buffer zones of the highest peak in the Philippines, as the department regulates activities at Mt. Apo.

“Maganda ang lugar, sayang ang lugar if mapabayaan (The place is beautiful; it would be shameful if it were neglected),” he said.

The senator expressed that even before the law (Republic Act No. 9237) was enacted people were already residing in the area. He mentioned that, like himself, before the law was crafted, he used to sell fish in the area.

“Before nagawa ang batas na yan andiyan na ang mga tao na yan. Like me, wala pa ang batas na yan andon na ako umaakyat, nagbebenta ng isda maliit pa ako noon (Before that law was crafted, those people were already there. Like me, before that law existed, I was already climbing up there, selling fish when I was still young),” he said. 

The Mount Apo Protected Area Act of 2003, also known as Republic Act No. 9237, was enacted on February 3, 2004. The law aims to protect Mount Apo's ecology and indigenous culture while allowing for sustainable development within designated buffer zones.

To recall, Dela Rosa visited the area and expressed his intention to personally investigate the matter, having grown up in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur. He emphasized the importance of government and community cooperation to ensure that residents of the area do not lose their livelihoods.

Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga, DENR secretary, clarified that the department does not intend to close down resorts and other establishments operating in the area without permits. She said that they aim to find common ground as they are committed not only to protecting the environment but also to safeguarding the livelihoods of people working in these establishments.

Meanwhile, Senator Raffy Tulfo, in his privilege speech on March 18, 2024, raised concerns about resorts permitted by the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) to operate in the buffer zones of Mt. Apo.

Tulfo expressed concerns about the mountain's welfare, especially since it is being considered for inclusion on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) list of world heritage sites. He criticized PAMB for what he described as a band-aid solution to the issue of illegal structures in the area. RGP

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