DENR issues show cause order to ‘protected area’ occupants

EXPLAIN Personnel from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in this photo taken on Nov. 3, deliver the show cause orders issued by the agency, asking occupants to explain their presence inside a “protected area” along the Marikina-Rizal-Laguna-Quezon Highway. —DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES FACEBOOK PHOTO

LUCENA CITY—More than 200 owners of alleged illegal structures built inside the government-declared “protected area” along the Marikina-Rizal-Laguna-Quezon (Marilaque) Highway received show cause orders (SCOs) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Calabarzon, the agency said on Saturday.

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The DENR regional office, in a report on Saturday, said the structures were built inside the designated road right-of-way by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) along the Marilaque. The highway traverses inside the Kaliwa River Forest Reserve, Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape in Rizal and areas covered by the Presidential Proclamation No. 1636 in some parts of Laguna and Quezon.

Nilo Tamoria, DENR-Calabarzon executive director, explained that the structures have adverse implications to the biodiversity inside the protected area.

“We could no longer ignore the effect of climate change. We will continue serving show cause orders,” Tamoria said in a statement.,

Calabarzon, or Region 4A, stands for the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon.

Opportunity to explain

A protected area refers to portions of land and water set aside for their unique biodiversity and shielded from destructive human exploitation.

The Kaliwa Watershed Forest Reserve was declared as a forest reserve by Proclamation No. 573 on June 22, 1968, while the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape was established through PP 296 in 2001.

PP 1636, signed in 1977, declared portions of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna and Quezon as national park, wildlife sanctuaries and game preserves.

These areas were further protected by Republic Act No. 7586 (National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992).

The DENR has been issuing SCOs since Nov. 3 to the over 200 occupants that included owners of residential houses, and business establishments.

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The SCO requires the recipient to justify, explain or prove something to the court or quasi-judicial body. It is used when there is a need for more information before deciding on a certain issue or matter.

The issuance of the SCO is a process to give the owners of the structures the opportunity to explain their presence inside the protected area, Tamoria said.

“If they have legal rights to stay, we will respect that,” he stressed.

On Oct. 27, the DENR, the DPWH, the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Armed Forces and local government representatives agreed in a meeting to simultaneously issue SCOs to all settlers and structure owners inside the protected areas and timberland in Calabarzon.

Permit

The DENR stressed that settlers and building owners would need to secure a permit from the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) before constructing inside a protected area.