The Provincial Board of Palawan has criticized the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) which issued a 30-day eviction notice to an initial number of 79 establishments in El Nido for supposedly violating zoning and easement laws as part of its campaign to clean up the town of illegal establishments.
Board Member David Francis Ponce de Leon pointed out that among the initial list of supposed violators cited in Barangay Corong-Corong by the DENR was the El Nido National High School and other establishments that had long been in existence.
“Naisama dito ang El Nido National High School at mayroon ditong mga establishments na since time immemorial ay nandiyan na,” Ponce de Leon said during his privilege speech on regular session, Tuesday.
He also pointed out that the DENR was among those that had given permits to the affected establishments.
“DENR is tasked to give permits to resorts, schools and other facilities tapos sila ang mapapa-vacate ngayon,” Ponce de Leon said.
“If you are a resort owner, bakit bibigyan ka lang [ng] 30 days na dumaan [ka] naman sa proper channel. You sought the help of the LGU, pinirmahan, PCSD (Palawan Council for Sustainable Development) and DENR pinirmahan, then you are being told to vacate?” he said.
In addition, Board Member Winston Arzaga claimed that the basis of the DENR in issuing the notices to vacate was an old map of El Nido which classified the highly developed Corong-Corong as forest land.
He also claimed that some of the establishments which were served notices have land titles.
“They have no right to be there as it is a forest land but the thing is, there are certain areas in the barangay that are covered by titles,” Arzaga said.
Arzaga accused the DENR of being responsible for issuing the questionable land titles.
“Who is responsible for issuing those titles? It’s the DENR,” Arzaga said.
He pointed out further that the local government of El Nido is also responsible for allowing the construction of the establishments.
Officials of the DENR and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) will be invited to the environment and natural resources committee of the Provincial Board to discuss the issues about El Nido.