Farmers in Bataan park face eviction

Morong, Bataan—More farmers cultivating idle lots within the Bataan National Park will be evicted and subject to arrest by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau and the National Bureau of Investigation for alleged violation of environmental laws.

Dr. Rogelio Demelletes of the DENR-BMB said his office have been receiving reports on the presence of illegal occupants, mostly farmers, within the protected areas of the Bataan National Park.

Demelletes mentioned the arrest of five farmers who he said were caught in the act of constructing houses during a recent raid at a residential compound in Barangay Mabayo. He said the areas being cultivated by the farmers are within the protected areas.

“We have been telling these illegal occupants to leave the place as they encroached in a protected area,” said Demelletes over the phone, adding that it was the regional DENR office in Central Luzon that initiated the coordination with BMB office.

DENR-BMB is the agency that formulates policies, guidelines, rules and regulations for the establishment and management of an Integrated Protected Areas System such as the national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and refuge marine parks and biospheric reserves of the country.

In fact, Demelletes said the original target of the operations were nine persons, but only five were caught in the act. The others eluded arrest after they scampered to different directions shortly after they noticed the approaching NBI operatives, he said.

More than a hundred of families were staying within the protected area and have been cultivating the land for more than three decades through a permit issued by the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources (PENRO) of Bataan.

Show-cause letters will be sent to other residents and farmers who continue to cultivate the areas, the bureau said.

A certification issued by PENRO sometime in the early 1980s allowing farmers to cultivate the land was showed to Manila Standard as proof their stay there is legitimate.

Demelletes said Central Luzon DENR has to examine the documents to check if the permits are authentic, have already expired, or are no longer legally acknowledged by the BMB.

He added that lands under the protected areas are not alienable and disposable. The lands will not be automatically be converted to them. 

Demelletes urged Bataan PENRO to clarify things to avoid confusion among the occupants of the protected area.

Central Luzon DENR director Paquito Moreno previously said an Israeli firm and its Filipino partner signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the agency allowing the firm to conduct a soil study and determine its adaptability for a green technology project.

DENR-BMB is a member of the enforcement task force of the DENR.

Topics: Rogelio Demelletes , Department of Environment and Natural Resources , Biodiversity Management Bureau , National Bureau of Investigation

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