BY MARCHEL P. ESPINA
The Silay City government is cracking down on illegal structures in Barangay Patag and Sitio Lantawan, Guimbala-on, that are part of the Northern Negros Natural Park (NNNP).
Councilor Ryan Gamboa joined the operation over the weekend and said the city government inspected resorts, restaurants, and cafes in these areas because they received feedback that some of these establishments have no business and building permits.
He said the jurisdiction for these areas, being covered by the NNNP, falls under the Protected Area Management Board.
“But the Silay City government can’t just sit down if PAMB is not acting (on the illegal structures),” he said.
He added there are too many structures and visitors in the area and the city government is afraid of the spread of coronavirus disease in the community.
He said that establishments with violations were given 10 days to comply or correct their errors.
He said a joint inspection team will go back to the area in the next two weeks to check on the establishments’ compliance, adding that non-compliance would mean sanctions, including cease-and-desist order.
Gamboa, who sits as ex-oficio member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan being the president of the Philippine Councilors League Negros Occidental chapter, said that based on his observations, there was no proper waste disposal, no social distancing, and motorists coming to the area have no licenses.
Moreover, there are structures that applied for temporary residential meter at the Central Negros Electric Cooperative Inc. and converted it to commercial line, he said.
Meanwhile, the Group of Environmental Socialists Inc. lauded the Silay City government for its effort to require the establishments to comply with needed permits.
“A credit to LGU as they have taken a big step in enforcing the law against these illegal structures inside NNNP,” the group said.
However, the group is calling on the enforcers of these joint operations to not just stop there.
“We don’t want to see another band-aid solution to the growing number of illegal structures inside the NNNP,” they said.
“We can’t just allow illegal structures and business owners to operate inside the protected park. This is like giving unwarranted benefits to these rich and powerful individuals who are environmental and tax violators,” the group said.*