GenSan declares coastal water as protected area

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 24 June) – Calling it a vital component of the city’s marine ecosystem, the city council declared on Tuesday a portion of the area’s coastal waters along the Sarangani Bay as a marine protected area.

In an ordinance, the council specifically designated the seaward portion of Barangay Tambler here covering a total of 1,261.2 hectares as a protected area, being an “important contributing factor to the overall health of both marine and terrestrial environments within the city’s territorial jurisdiction.”

City Councilor Eduardo Leyson IV, author of the ordinance, said the move is mainly to complement the city government’s continuing efforts to properly protect, conserve and manage its coastal waters and resources.

He said the declared area specifically covers the seaward portion of the Maharlika beach resort that is considered as one of the most “productive regions” of the city’s coastal waters.

The area “provides food and shelter to the highest levels of marine diversity that are vital to the natural process of food chain as well as the crucial lives and sustenance of the city’s (marine) flora and fauna,” he said.

The ordinance mainly prohibits the use of the area as venue for human activities that might destroy the ecological terrain, resources, especially the plant and animal life within it.

Any person who would violate such prohibition will face a “fine of P5,000 or imprisonment of 15 days, or both at the discretion of the court, or a community service recommended by the punong barangay where the incident shall have taken place.”

It provided for the deputation of the barangay officials, barangay tanods/barangay police and members of the “bantay dagat” in the area as its implementers.

Leyson said the grounds to preserve and protect the area are enshrined in the specific provisions of various legislations, specifically Republic Act (RA) 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991, RA 8550 or the Fisheries Code of the Philippines and Presidential Proclamation 756 that declared Sarangani Bay and its adjoining waters as a protected seascape.

“There is an indispensable need to preserve and protect the subject area considering its utmost importance not only for the present day populace but more importantly for the future generations of the city,” he added.

Proclamation 756 covers a total of 211,913 hectares in this city and the coastal municipalities of Maitum, Kiamba, Maasim, Alabel, Malapatan and Glan in Sarangani.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 12 is currently pushing for the passage of a law that would formally set up the Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape and the provision of appropriate funds by the national government for its management and for other purposes.

The measure calls for the annual appropriation of funds in the national budget for the management, protection, and conservation of the entire Sarangani bay area.

It pushes for the creation of a regular protected area office, setting up of a management regime, formal organizational structures and other related arrangements.