GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 13 Apr) – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources ordered the closure of at least 17 inland resorts and tourist destinations here and in the nearby town of Polomolok, South Cotabato for violation of environmental laws.
Maria Elvira Lumayag, Community Environment and Natural Resources officer, said some of the resorts are within timber and forest land, where their operations are not supposed to be allowed.
She also said the tourist facilities lack the necessary Forest Land Use Agreement for Tourism (FLAGT) given to inland resorts before they can operate..
Among those ordered closed include the tourist drawer spots in GenSan like the Barikot Peak, Sanchez Peak, Mayango Peak, Queen Sheba Hidden Garden, Ulo Tulan and trail destination Buko-Buko Peak. Also closed were Ante Agro Farm, Bato Peak and Armros Native Farm sa Polomolok town.
Lumayag on Tuesday said they sent the closure order signed by Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to all the facilities they found to be within forestland in General Santos and in Polomolok, “a clear violation of section 20 and 78 of Presidential Decree 705.”
Section 20 of PD 705 states that no person may utilize, exploit, occupy, possess or conduct any activity within any forest land, or establish and operate any wood-processing plant, unless he has been authorized to do so under a license agreement, lease, license, or permit.
Section 78, on the other hand, provides that “any person who fails to pay the amount due and payable under the provisions of PD705, the National Internal Revenue Code, or the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder, shall be liable to the payment of a surcharge of twenty-five per centum (25%) of the amount due and payable.”
Lumayag said some of the resort operators sought a reconsideration of the order and asked that they be allowed to operate in the meantime that they are complying with the needed requirements in securing the FLAGT. DENR has yet to respond on their plea. (Rommel G. Rebollido / MindaNews)