Gov Padilla-led SC tackles Forest Reserve Issues

Chairperson Governor Carlos M. Padilla presided over the 38th regular meeting of the Lower Magat Forest Reserve Steering Committee (LMFR-SC) held on 06 August at the Lower Magat Ecotourism (LMET) Park in San Luis, Diadi, alongside Engr. Marcos G. Dacanay, DENR-R02 Asst. Regional Executive Director (ARED), who represented Dr. Gwendolyn C. Bambalan, DENR-R02 OIC-RED, and concurrent LMFR-SC Co-Chairperson.

The other regular members of the LMFR-SC consist of the Mayors of Diadi and Bagabag, the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer of Nueva Vizcaya, and a representative from each of the civic sector and a coalition of non-government organizations in Nueva Vizcaya.

The adjunct Lower Magat Forest Management Office (LMFMO) created by the provincial government on authority by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, provides the necessary technical and administrative support to the LMFR-SC, among others.

Their first meeting agendum covered certain issues concerning the Memorandum of Agreement, dated 25 February 1998, made and entered into by and between the Provincial Government of Nueva Vizcaya (PGNV) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which was effectively amended by both parties on 24 January 2004.

The forest reserve co-management agreement, which will be expiring in February 2023, covers the 24,000-hectare Lower Magat Reforestation Project situated within the confines of the adjoining municipalities of Diadi and Bagabag.

The members delved much on the claims, and ongoing/proposed projects within the 24,000-hectare forest reserve, most especially the future status of the 412-hectare LMET Park that has already been substantially developed by the PGNV, in light of the forthcoming expiration of the aforesaid agreement.

Declaring the impracticality and prematureness of any decisions being sought relative thereto, Governor Padilla advised the body to “create an ad hoc technical working group clothed with the mandate of undertaking a study on the extant agreement, along with the issues raised and other concomitant concerns.”

Following it up, Provincial Legal Officer Voltaire B. Garcia stressed the standard role of ad hoc bodies, i.e., “They are mere creations of a higher body, and their intended outputs are only recommendatory in character as the final decision rests with their creator.”

ARED Dacanay supported the Governor’s proposition that also prompted Diadi Mayor Sandy M. Gayaton to put it into a motion, which was duly seconded.

As thereafter resolved by the Steering Committee, the newly created 5-man ad hoc body shall be composed of the legal officers of the two (2) MOA parties who will then serve as co-chairpersons, and one (1) representative from each of the two (2) host municipal governments and the private sector as their members.

Thereafter, the Committee acted on the other tabled agenda with dispatch and due regard to inputs of members and resource persons, viz:
* Status and operation of the conference center, new swimming pool, and other infrastructure projects at the LMET Park;
* Request of Barangay Bugnay of Diadi for allocation of a one (1) hectare area for the construction of its proposed sports and recreation park;
* Request of the municipal government of Diadi for allocation of a 150 square meters space for its Wireless Internet Antenna project;
* Expired Special Land Use Management Agreements with Globe Telecom, Smart Communications, and Digitel/Suncell;
* Establishment of a provincial seedling production facility;
* Updates on collaborative plantation projects, which include the planting of indigenous tree species with SN-Aboitiz, and planting of bamboos with OISCA and DBP. #jlc

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