By: JUNE S. BLANCO
THE House Natural Resources Committee has approved the bill seeking to establish the Danajon Double Barrier Reef Natural Park (DDBRNP).
Rep. Erico Aumentado (2nd District, Bohol), author and sponsor of the bill said as a natural park, the DDBRNP will become a protected area.
But, the solon clarified, bill the guarantees freedom of legal fishing and of navigation at all times within the area except across established marine sanctuaries and fish pens or cages. For this purpose, he said, the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (Namria) is tasked to establish a 250-meter buffer zone.
It also ensures LGUs abutting the park of shares in future income as eco-tourism facilities shall have been established.
The Region 7 offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR 7) and the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) as well as Namria endorsed the bill. The committee chaired by Rep. Francisco Matugas of Surigao del Norte unanimously approved the bill, subject to the submission by Namria of the natural park's metes and bounds.
The provincial government of Bohol had sent Liza Quirog, provincial agriculturist and now head of the Socio-Economic and Environment Management Cluster, and Larry Pamugas, OIC provincial agriculturist, to represent the province in the committee hearing. However, they arrived after the committee approved the bill due to alleged delay in their flight from Tagbilaran City.
Quirog, however, said the province will submit its position paper on the measure.
Aumentado said the DDBR, being the only documented double barrier reef in Asia, deserves to be preserved and well-protected from illegal fishers and coral poachers because of its rich potential for food security and eco-tourism.
He said from 1948 to 1952, when he was a crew member of the fishing outfit "new look" in the DDBR, the 273-square kilometre marine phenomenon was one of, if not, the richest fishing grounds in the Philippines. He recalled that the usual catch consisted of the high class fish such as badlon, tangigue, mamsa and others.
He lamented that today, the DDBR is being ravaged by illegal fishers using dynamite, trawl, palakaya, and cyanide, among others.
And worst, he said, the coral reefs are being destroyed by poachers, of which recently, some P3 million worth of corals from Bohol seawaters were confiscated by the Cebu Task Force of Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia in Punta Engaño, Lapulapu City.
He said there is a need to revive the Cebu-Leyte-Cebu-Southern Leyte (Celebosole) Growth Quadrangle for the four provinces to jointly patrol, protect and preserve the DDBR which is surrounded by the four provinces.
The Celebosole component is part of the provisions in the declaration of the DDBR Bill.
The DDBR consists of the Caubian Outer Reef and the Calituban Inner Reef, both of which span the seawaters of the towns of Tubigon, Clarin, Inabanga, Buenavista, Getafe, Bien Unido, Ubay, Pres. Carlos P. Garcia and Talibon in Bohol; Matalom, Bato, Hilongos and Hindang in Leyte; Lapu-Lapu City and Cordova of Cebu and Maasin City of Southern Leyte.