Mantigue Island in San Roque, Mahinog was once a turtle sanctuary teeming with rich marine resources, clean and glorious environment, and an ideal place to unwind and communicate with nature.
But that was a thing of the past since turtles are nowhere to be found, different species of fish and plant life are fast disappearing, cleanliness and sanitation as well as peace and order became a perennial problem.
The presence of increasing numbers of families illegally occupying the islet is among the major causes that threatened the resources in the area.
It is high time to take aggressive action and policy direction for Mantigue Island and having said that the present leadership is determined to do just that no matter what it takes within the bounds of law and due process.
Sustainable development has to do with environment and the people and unless we do something to preserve our environment, no doubt nature will come back to us in the form of natural disaster and in the end people will suffer.
This is what we are doing for Mantigue: to preserve its natural beauty for every one –present and future generation –to enjoy it to the fullest.
The urgency to relocate these people living in Mantigue is the only option to save this island from further degradation and finally restore its glorious past.
The local government units of barangay San Roque, municipality of Mahinog and the province of Camiguin along with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources have worked together to achieve this end.
Mantigue Island is a forestland and based on Section 69 of Presidential Decree No. 1559 it is unlawful for any person to reside any forestland for own private use without authority from the government.
The time has come for the government to make a very difficult decision, for the 41 families to go although we know very well how painful it is for others to leave the place they already consider their own.
Consistent with our policy of persuasion and conciliation, we made several information and education campaign in the past to all residents there to start moving to the mainland where a resettlement site and new opportunities await them.
We recognize that basic social and economic needs of those affected must be addressed. For that the LGU allocated P420,000 for a relocation plan that would give each family not less than 100 sq. m. lot at Benoni resettlement site; P1,000 worth of grocery items; cash assistance amounting to P5,000, or P10,000 for those who opt to relocate outside the relocation site; free demolition and delivery of salvaged materials and personal belongings from Mantigue to relocation site; five to 10 days free carpenter, including livelihood assistance, among others.
Seventeen of 41 families heeded the call and voluntarily relocated, and for those families who still refused to vacate – and remain antagonistic to the authorities – the government has no option but seek legal recourse from the court.
The legal issue now belongs to the court of law and the hearing will start on November 27. Due process has already taken its course and we are confident that we have a very strong case and our efforts will finally pay off in due time.
A thousand miles of journey begins with a single step. No matter how tough the road is to achieve this plan, we will skip no single step to get there.
Help Save MANTIGUE before it’s too late!
(SGD) MAYOR ALEX R. JAJALLA
Mahinog, Camiguin Province
November 25, 2008