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Cebu City planners call for stricter building rules in protected areas

By: Niña Mae C. Oliverio - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | May 05,2024 - 09:05 AM

[FILE PHOTO] Lush forests in Sitio Cantipla, Barangay Tabunan form part of the Central Cebu Protected Landscape. (CDN PHOTO/ TONEE DESPOJO)

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu City’s top planners want stricter rules for building in protected areas, especially the Cebu City Protected Landscape (CCPL).

Architect Joseph Michael “Yumi” Espina, head of the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO), said via the Sugboanon Channel that the Protected Areas Management Board (PAMB) needs to review their rules for construction in the protected landscape.

“That is what is happening now in our CCPL, there are a lot of developments there,” Espina said. 

“What happens there is that the building is already finished, but we just received the application of occupancy permits (only after the construction),” Espina added. 

Furthermore, he said that the CPDO found out about the construction happening without the required permits only when the contractors were applying for occupancy permits from the city.

Espina emphasized that developers or contractors should have obtained locational clearances from the CPDO and building permits from the Office of the Building Official (OBO) before starting construction.

However, it appears they only obtained permits from PAMB just before starting construction, he noted.

This issue echoes a similar situation regarding the construction of a resort in the heart of the Chocolate Hills in Sagbayan, Bohol, a few months ago.

READ: DOT seeks inclusion in protected areas board amid Chocolate Hills issue

PAMB’s role

The local planner urged PAMB to strictly enforce regulations to manage developments in the area.

The CCPL was established by Republic Act 9486, authored by Rep. Eduardo Gullas, in 2007.

Architect Jhomari Villarojo, CPDO’s head of Planning Division, mentioned that one of PAMB’s roles is to set rules preventing actions harmful to CCPL and policies outlined in the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS).

Villarojo, along with other local planners from CPDO, also participated in the Sugboanon Channel segment.

According to a report from Cebu City News, Espina said on May 4 that PAMB issued permits to contractors based on Section 6, paragraph (e) of the law.

This section tasks PAMB with establishing criteria and fees for permits for activities regulated by the law or management plan.

Additionally, under Section 9 (b), PAMB’s executive committee is authorized to act on proposed projects.

However, Espina noted that proponents often bypass the city after obtaining permits from PAMB. “But the problem is, the proponents do not go through the City after they get the permits from PAMB,” said Espina.

Espina emphasized that RA 9486 aims to protect areas from human intervention, but and “it is ironical that things have become otherwise.”

Moreover, the city planner noted that CPDO will propose amendments to the city’s zoning regulations to require developers to obtain permits before construction begins.

“Our recommendation is for PAMB to require applicants to go to the City first for building permits before they issue their permits,” said Espina. 

Protected areas 

CPDO assistant head Architect Anne Marie Cuizon explained that protected landscapes are areas preserved for their natural, ecological, and cultural significance.

Cuizon and Espina pointed out that urban development, especially in Cebu City, has contributed significantly to global warming and environmental degradation.

Cuizon highlighted that the Philippines loses about 47,000 hectares of rainforest annually, with a 60 percent reduction in forest cover over the last 80 years. In 2023 alone, Cebu lost 74 hectares of natural forest, resulting in 77.6 kilotons of carbon emissions.

She emphasized the urgency of the situation, calling it alarming.

Other areas in the country with protected landscapes include Santa Ana, Cagayan, Pampanga, and Leyte.

The CCPL covers several areas in Cebu, including Toledo City, Talisay City, Danao City, Balamban, Consolacion, Liloan, and Compostela. In Cebu City, protected areas include Buhisan Dam, Sudlon National Park, Kotkot Lusaran Watershed Forest Reserve, Manangga Watershed Forest Reserve, and Central Cebu National Park.

The CCPL’s goal is to maintain ecological balance.

Cuizon suggested to PAMB that local government units involved with CCPL should be allowed to educate and inform barangays about methods to protect and conserve the area. /clorenciana

READ: Senators slam DENR for negligence in preserving protected areas




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TAGS: Cebu city news, cebu news, environment, protected area

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