In the recent campaign of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 6, Western Visayas against illegal occupation in protected areas, the Community ENR Office of Bago City in Negros Occidental reported issuance of Notices of Violation (NOV) and Show Cause Orders.

A total number of fifty (50) NOVs, and two show cause orders were issued recently to the illegal Northern Negros Natural Park (NNNP) occupants.

“Like NNNP, other protected areas are our hopes to continue the green and blue ecosystems balance,” said DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Livino B. Duran.

“They are the home to our diverse floras and faunas, they are our biodiversity and of course, the trees in our protected areas (PAs) provide us with abundant supply of oxygen for our daily needs, so therefore, protected area should remain protected,” he added.

NNNP is located at the northwestern part of Negros Island within the Province of Negros Occidental. With a land area of 70,826.16  hectares, it covers eleven (11) local government units, including cities of Cadiz, Silay, Talisay, Victorias, Sagay, and San Carlos; and towns of E.B. Magalona, Taboso, Calatrava, Salvador Benedicto, and Murcia. It is home of the threatened and endangered species that are endemic to the area such as the Negros bleeding heart dove, Visayan warty pig, Visayan spotted deer, and red Lauan.

NNNP Protected Area Superintendent Joan Nathaniel Gerangaya disclosed that violators failed to secure building permits, or a tenurial instrument such as  the Special-use Agreement in  Protected Area (SAPA), and clearance from the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) prior to construction.

He cited Section 18 of Republic Act 11038 or the Expended National Integrated Protected Areas System Act, which states that it is unlawful for any person to occupy or dwell in any public land within the protected area without clearance from the PAMB and could warrant a fine of P200,000 to 1P million and/or imprisonment of one to six years.

The Department installed public notice and signages in strategic locations across the protected area to warn potential buyers of public lands.

In July, a man was caught selling portions of public land in Brgy. Kumaliskis, Salvador Benedicto, and two more suspects were arrested in Brgy. Bunga the following day for engaging in the same illegal activity.

Maintaining protected areas (PAs) and other natural resources is one of the programs implemented by the DENR 6. It is tightly linked to biodiversity conservation which is one of the ten priority programs of DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.