Legarda fumes, sets probe of DENR move to open protected areas
The author of the law that designated protected areas said she would start an investigation of the lifting of a moratorium on issuance of special permits to develop these areas and violations of the law.
“As it is, our protected areas are exploited, mismanaged,” said Sen. Loren Legarda, who authored the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas Systems Act to prohibit the commercial development and destruction of environmentally sensitive areas.
She said the Senate would also probe violations and why the moratorium on special use permits was being lifted.
“It has been abused,” she said on Twitter.
She said structures that encroached on protected areas should be inspected.
“Make them pay and demolish if possible,” she said.
Legarda said there was no need to let private groups or individuals develop protected areas to finance their protection because the national budget had allocations for this.
She said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) “must veer away from profit-oriented paradigm.”
“It must commit to protect biodiversity at all costs,” Legarda said.
An environment advocacy group earlier also slammed the DENR for seeking to lift the suspension of issuance special private use of protected areas, or Sapa, permits.
In a statement, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) criticized the DENR for what the groups said was the “rapacious wholesale” of environmentally critical areas.
“We reject this money-making scheme that threatens our protected landscapes,” it said.
The group said it suspected that permits to build on protected areas, which the DENR called special private use of protected areas, were meant to benefit only big business.
Leon Dulce, Kalikasan-PNE spokesperson, said the DENR move would stretch protected areas “beyond their carrying capacities.”
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