Morong, Bataan—Inventory receipts issued to occupants within the Bataan National Park are not a permit to occupy the lands but one of the measures to identify them by the Protected Areas Management Office, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources clarified over the weekend.
“The inventory receipts issued to farmers during the past and present occupants are not permits to occupy or cultivate the land but a procedure to identify them,” said an employee of DENR-PAMO who declined to be named.
The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) in Bataan also issued a statement denying its involvement on alleged issuance of permits to farmers occupying BNP.
“PENRO is just a mere facilitator and it has no voting power during a meeting with the Protected Areas Management Board,” it said.
Last week, the DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau and agents of the National Bureau of Investigation arrested five farmer occupants at the BNP for illegally occupying and cultivating lots within the protected area.
BMB and NBI operatives raided several residential areas after they received reports that concrete residential structures were being built within the protected area situated at Barangay Mabayo in this town.
Steel bars, galvanized iron sheets, cement and other construction materials, and a cement mixer were found and confiscated by the raiding team.
NBI-Environmental Complaint Division chief lawyer Czar Eric Nuqui identified the farmers as Marlon Good, Darwin Cojeda, Edgar Ribo and Fely Robles. The farmers were arrested based on complaint filed by DENR3 regional office Director Paquito Moreno.
The farmers, however, claimed they were forcibly removed from their residences at gunpoint by heavily armed men who later introduced themselves as NBI agents.
Robles said an unidentified man who was with the raiding team grabbed her bag carrying P40,000 cash and jewelry. She said her bag disappeared and was not included in the list of items seized by the operatives.
The farmers expressed suspicion that their arrest has something to do with the planned take over at the lot within the BNP by a foreign company and its Filipino partner.
The group said a memorandum of agreement (MOA) had been forged between DENR and the foreign-owned firm for use in a green technology project.
“Kaya kami pilit na pinaalis sa lugar para matake-over mg dayuhang kumpanya ang aming sinsaskang lupa,” said Robles.