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Friday, October 7, 2022

Bacolod: Gawahon Dev’t Authority to protect NNNP

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Bacolod City – With Gawahon Eco-Park as among the prime tourist destinations in northern Negros, Victorias City Mayor Javier Miguel “Javi” Benitez has recommended to the Sangguniang Panlungsod the passing of an ordinance creating the Gawahon Development Authority.

Benitez, who led the 17th year anniversary of the creation of the Northern Negros Natural Park recently, said that the formulation of Gawahon Development Authority aims to formulate policies and regulations to further protect the NNNP portion of Victorias City.

He stressed that environmental sustainability and economic development should co-exist. But Benitez said they will do it phase-by-phase to keep up the standard set by the province and national government.

Third District Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez, who also attended the activity, said that city governments of Silay and Talisay have also created their respective development units to manage properly their natural resources in the NNNP.

Mayor Benitez also noted a marked improvement in the peace and order of barangay Gawahon, which used to be the among the insurgency-affected areas of Negros Occidental in the late 1980s. But he is looking into the possibility of creating a sub-station for the Philippine Army to assist Bantay Bukid in the campaign against timber poaching and illegal hunting in the park.

Rep. Benitez stressed the need to raise awareness in maintaining the biodiversity of NNNP.

In marking the NNNP creation 17 years ago, the 3rd district solon said “I think the challenge is to ensure that if there is a development within the park, it should be in accordance with sustaining and conserving biodiversity and remaining forest cover.”

If we may able to increase the forest cover of NNNP, it will have an impact to address environmental crisis, climate change, as well as preservation of watershed, Rep. Benitez said.

Benitez proposed legislative measures, such as the national asset accounting system, with regards to environmental protection, in order to quantify and evaluate environmental and ecological services, to be included in the development plans of the Regional Development Council up to the national level.

You have to stop thinking of nature an endless resource, there has to be evaluation and accounting process so that government can impute its value, he added.

While addressing the illegal structures within the protected area is the job of Protected Area Management Board and Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Benitez said that under NIPAS (National Integrated Protected Areas System) law, it also mandates LGUs to implement, monitor and regulate laws, such as development, business zoning, building codes, within its multi-use zones.

Provincial Administrator Atty. Rayfrando Diaz, in behalf, of Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, also lauded the PAMB for the protection of NNNP led by its park superintendent, Joan Gerangaya.

The activity was witnessed by DENR regional director Livino Duran, Calatrava Mayor Marilyn Era and Toboso Mayor Madonna Jaojoco, Provincial Legal Officer Atty. Alberto Nellas Jr, tourism officers of 11 LGUs situated at NNNP and Lt. Col. J-Jay Javines, 79IB commander, among others. (Gilbert bayoran via tvds photo by tvds)

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