Valencia suspends endorsements of new plantations

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/22 February) – The Valencia City council will suspend issuing endorsements of new agricultural plantations pending the completion of its Comprehensive Land Use Plan or CLUP, City Vice Mayor Azucena Huervas today said.

Huervas said the suspension is indefinite as they are not yet sure when they would be able to finish deliberations on the land use plan.

She said the suspension will apply to all agricultural firms who are planning to open new plantations in the city.

Endorsements from the city council are required for the issuance of business permits to plantations.

Huervas, speaking at the Valencia Water Congress on Feb. 18 organized by the Valencia City Water District, said it is very important to base their decisions concerning plantations on the city’s actual zoning classifications.

She, however, admitted that that the decision was triggered by the application of Del Monte Philippines Inc. for a plantation in upland Guinoyuran village.

She said the proposed plantation sits on an area with an elevation higher than nearby Lake Apo’s. The lake and its environs are a watershed area.

“This might affect our source of water,” she added.

Huervas quoted City Councilor Glenn Peduche, chair of the environment committee, as saying the city council is strong in its position not to endorse plantations without the CLUP [as reference].

She said they already informed Del Monte of their decision to defer indefinitely their endorsement.

Bur she added they were not keen on allowing any plantation near Lake Apo.

“We do not object [to investors in agriculture] but we will safeguard the health of the people,” she explained.

Huervas said they also feared a repeat of flash floods in Lurugan and San Carlos villages due to the presence of plantations in those areas. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)