Thursday, August 16, 2007

Government to relocate Mantigue island residents

THE plan to relocate the 42 or so households living in Mantigue Island was arrived after a series of planning session by the members of the Technical Working Group (TWG) and the Mantigue Development Task Force that Mayor Alex R. Jajalla had earlier created to formulate a master plan for his administration’s A.L.E.X. development agenda, which includes development of Mantigue Island for eco-tourism purposes.

“We will coordinate closely with the Congressman, Provincial Governor, Sangguniang Panlalawigan, DENR, the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor and other line agencies inorder to put our efforts together to finally relocate these people from Mantigue island to a resettlement site in Benoni which was already established for that purpose,” Mayor Jajalla said.

“But in doing so, we will see to it that the social and economic concerns of those who will be affected will be given attention,” he added.

Mantigue island, comprising 4.4 hectares, is part of the municipality of Mahinog and was declared as a forest land in 1998 by virtue of DENR Admininistrative Order No. 98-13 by then DENR Secretary Victor Ramos. Section 78 of Presidential Decree No. 705, otherwise known as Forestry Code, makes it illegal to occupy and reside in the area declared as forestland.

On the other hand, Proclamation 1801 issued by then President Ferdinand Marcos declared, among others, Mantigue Island as Marine Turtle Sanctuary for scientific study area. Also, under R.A. 9147 or “Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act,” the DENR considered Mantigue Island as a “critical habitat” due to the presence of the endangered marine turtles in the area.

“It’s high time to implement these laws and save this island from further degradation for the benefit of this and future generations,” the mayor said in an interview with The Trumpet.
Part of the plan is to construct ecologically friendly tourism facilities in the island that can attract both local and foreign tourists. (Homer R. Jajalla – Mahinog IO)

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