The amended National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992 is waiting for the approval of President Benigno Aquino III, Rep. Pryde Henry Teves (Neg. Or., 3rd District) said yesterday.
Teves and Rep. George Arnaiz (Neg. Or., 2nd District) have been pushing for the automatic retention of the 75 percent share of local government units where protected areas are located.
In Negros Oriental, these include Apo Island in Dauin, the more than 8-hectare Balinsasayao Twin Lakes in San Jose, and the Mount Kan-laon National Park in a 24-hectare lot at the boundaries of Oriental and Occidental Negros.
Apo Island, a world-renowned diving site with around 691.45 hectares, is earning almost half a million pesos a month in fees, Teves said.
He added that, under the amendatory proposal, the income generated from the operation of the system, or the management of wild flora and fauna, shall accrue to a trust fund and be retained and utilized for the management and development of the protected area where the income is generated. Twenty-five percent shall accrue to the NIPAS fund that shall be established at the DENR level to finance the management and development of other protected areas.
At present, the amount is remitted to the national treasury, and host LGUs request for their 75 percent share and wait for months or even years before it is given back, Teves said.
Once the amendments are approved, the 75 percent share is automatically retained and deposited in government banks, such as the Land Bank of the Philippines or the Development Bank of the Philippines, and the disbursement will be signed by the mayor and the regional director of the DENR.
Teves also said another amendment is for the DENR to exercise oversight functions over the protected areas, that number to about 240 all over the country and cover 35,700 square kilometers, or 11.9 percent of the land area of the Philippines.*JG
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