Morong, Bataan—Government agents arrested Tuesday five farmers who illegally occupied portions of the government property situated at the Bataan Technological Park, a protected area in Barangay Mabayo, Morong, Bataan.
The farmers were Marlon Good, Darwin Cojeda, Fely Robles, Edgar Rino and Francisco Lovilla, Jr. all residents of said place. They were arrested based on the complaint filed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Executive Director Paquito Moreno.
Some of the farmers however claimed that they have been occupying the property for over 40 years now and there stay there was approved by the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO), informed sources said.
On Monday, agents from the National Bureau of Investigation - Manila, in full battle gear, stormed five separate residential areas occupied by different group of farmers. The raiding team forcibly removed occupants at gunpoint and herded them to a service vehicle.
NBI-Environmental Complaint Division chief lawyer Czar Eric Nuqui said the farmers illegally occupied the areas which are covered by the Natural Park System and Recreation Areas.
Nuqui said Good occupied more than 1,000 square meters; Ribo has 10,000 sqm; Cojeda got 837 sqm; Lavilla 72 sqm and Robles has 4,810 sqm, all situated within the BTP property. He said a backyard piggery was also constructed within the community.
“The suspects are building illegal structures within the BTP when the NBI raided the area,” said Noqui.
He said the farmers failed to show documents or any proof that would justify their legitimate stay within the protected area when asked by the NBI raiding team. The farmers violated Republic Act 7586 or the Expanded National Integrated Protective Area System.
Liza Torre, chief of the Community Environment Natural Resources Office (CENRO) stationed in nearby Bagac, Bataan, issued a certification citing that the occupants illegally occupied the protected area.
“CENRO did not issue certification or permit for the farmers to occupy in the BNP,” said Torre in a letter sent to NBI-Environmental Crime Division.
The farmers remained under the custody of NBI-Manila unless they have secured P100,000 bail bond each for their temporary liberty.