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On the expose of an fully operational resort at the Chocolate Hills

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Charter change to induce more brazen disregard of our protected areas

Youth group Stewards and Volunteers for the Earth – Philippines (SAVE Ph) chided government agencies for their gross failure to protect our natural resources in the name of job-creation and tourism “development projects”. The group says the viral Chocolate Hills resort owned by Captain’s Peak Garden and Resort is but the latest abuse and brazen disregard of our laws and will only be exacerbated under the charter change proposal.

“This is not an isolated case. It has never been and will even worsen once charter change proposal prevails ,” said Zyoen Garcia, convenor of SAVE Ph. “Government agencies, despite having the authority to disallow any projects encroaching or posing a threat to our protected areas have been instrumental in such transgressions.

She added that, “with the proposal for land ownership up in the air coupled with the aggressive courting of foreign investors by the Marcos administration, we should expect that foreign ownership of land will trigger illegal land conversions and infrastructure intrusion of protected areas will only lead to more agrarian conflicts and wildlife degradation”.

Last year, drone shots provided by Masunigi GeoReserve Foundation Inc. exposed the ongoing construction of wind turbines on the Masungi Reserve, recognized as a protected wildlife sanctuary in Baras, Rizal.

Garcia also revealed that in Carmona City. Cavite, a 204 hectare communal farmland was illegally converted by the LGU for SM Development Corporation to develop despite a prohibition by the Department of Agrarian Reform to reclassify all irrigable and irrigated agricultural land.

“Despite having the protection of our natural resources enshrined in our laws, private capital in cahoots with government agencies and local government units have somehow wiggled their way through our world renowned bureaucratic red tape to privatize and develop land that are protected and no longer beneficial to the public,” Garcia added.

She pointed out that even the National Economic Development Authority reported that the Agrarian Reform department from 1998 to 2018 converted 21,072 hectares of agricultural land at the prodding of local government units.

Also, the NEDA found out that of the fifty eight operational ecozones, thirty are located in environmentally critical areas while three more are well within protected areas.

SAVE Ph demands that the Environmental and Natural Resources and the Agrarian Reform departments must pause to review all applications and temporarily cease from issuing permits that encroach on natural, mineral and marine resources that leads to food insecurity, dislocation of farmers and indigenous communities and wildlife degradation.

“The strictest scrutiny must be in order to preserve what the youth will inherit soon. Further degradation, development aggression and corruption must stop now and at all cost,” Garcia asserted.

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