Mangrove cutting rap surprises mayorBy Joey A. Gabieta |Inquirer Visayas
TACLOBAN CITY—A municipal mayor in Eastern Samar has denied violating environmental laws in the implementation of a resettlement project.
Lawyer Jovan Aboga, chief of staff of Mayor Annaliza Gonzales-Kwan of Guiuan town, pointed out that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the National Housing Authority (NHA) would not allow such a project to proceed if it would result in the destruction of the mangroves.
A complaint was filed against Kwan and a contractor before the Office of the Environmental Ombudsman for illegally cutting and destroying mangroves in Guiuan town without permits from the DENR.
The complaint-affidavit was filed by village officials of Campoyong, Guiuan, who accused Kwan and contractor Cosme Tiu Sonco, owner of Al’s Enterprise and Construction, of conspiring to cut and destroy mangrove forests in their barangay (village) in July last year for the construction of a joint NHA-local government unit (LGU) resettlement project.
They claimed that the illegal cutting of mangroves was done despite the issuance of a cease and desist order by the DENR and village council resolutions requesting Kwan to heed the cease and desist order.
Kwan said in a text message that she was surprised about the complaint filed against her since she never received any copy. Aboga confirmed the mayor’s statement.
But he added they would answer the complaint once they received a copy, stressing that they never violated any environmental laws when the resettlement project in Barangay Campoyong was implemented.
He also pointed out that the resettlement project was a national project, with Guiuan as the recipient.
Aboga said that the Guiuan municipal government’s role was only to identify the possible settlers of the resettlement project.
But initially, the beneficiaries included 300 families from Campoyong and Barangay 6, who had to be relocated because they were living in flood-prone areas.