The Department of Environment and Natural Resources - MIMAROPA Region has issued Notice to Vacate (NTV) against certain individuals including Beatriz Zobel de Ayala for unlawful occupation of a timberland which is also part of the Malampaya Sound Protected Landscape and Seascape (MSPLS) in Taytay, Palawan.

The Notice, which was signed by Taytay CENR Officer Alan Valle on March 3, 2020, cited violation of the provisions of Republic Act 7586 as amended by RA 11038 or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (E-NIPAS) Act of 2018.

The law prohibits (n) occupying or dwelling in any public land within the protected area without clearance from the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB).

It also forbids (o) constructing, erecting, or maintaining any kind of structure, fence or enclosure, conducting any business enterprise within the protected area without prior clearance from the PAMB and permit from the DENR, or conducting these activities in a manner that is inconsistent with the management plan duly approved by the PAMB.

The PAMB, the sole policy-making and decision-making body of MSPLS pursuant to the provisions of E-NIPAS Act of 2018 has neither accepted from the respondents, any application for tenurial instrument nor approved any construction of structures in the said area.

Also stated in the NTV is the respondents’ violation of Presidential Decree 705 or the  Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines which prohibits occupation of timberland areas without proper tenurial instrument issued by the DENR.

The illegal occupants were given 30 days upon receipt of the notice to comply, otherwise further legal actions shall be taken against them. The DENR has been monitoring the respondents’ compliance with the NTV, but was restricted due to the enhanced quarantine protocols implemented against the further spread of COVID-19.

The agency has likewise furnished a copy of the NTV to Felipe Valones in response to his letter dated May 18, 2020, which appealed for the agency to look into the alleged occupation and tree-cutting in the protected area. Valones is the Chieftain of indigenous people’s group Nagkakaisang Tribu Tandolanon Barangay Pancol.

Through this release, DENR MIMAROPA would like to shed light on some information in the article “DENR probe urged on El Nido reclamation,” which was published by The Manila Times on June 13, 2020.” The news story said that Palawan-based Environmental Legal Assistance Center headed by Atty. Grizelda Mayo-Anda has claimed that despite knowledge of the issue, the DENR has “not done any concrete actions to address these problems.

“Records and the date of the issued NTV show that even before receipt of the said letter from Mr. Valones, DENR has already conducted investigation and has taken appropriate actions against the respondents, contrary to what was stated in the article,” Regional Executive Director Henry Adornado explained.

“We earnestly hope that with the above-mentioned details, we have given ELAC and the general public, the clear course of actions that we have undertaken to address the matter. Our office is open for clarification so that confusion shall be avoided in publishing wrong information,” the Director remarked. ###