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Monday, September 23, 2013

Rey Anthony Chiu 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol Sept 23, 2013 (PIA)—Whether one develops a reclamation project legally or illegally, it is the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) who owns it, says key Bohol environment officer. 

The PRA, is the government agency tasked to improve, develop, administer and deal in, subdivide, dispose of, lease and sell all kinds of lands, buildings, estates and other forms of real property managed controlled and operated by the government in its reclamation projects and holds assets in the name of the government, the country’s official gazette states.

Because of this, proponents can only acquire them from PRA, through transfer of certificates of title by virtue of a competitive bidding, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Nestor Canda shared at Kapihan sa PIA Thursday. 

Other than the PRA, local governments like provinces, towns and chartered cities, and even government entities like those mandated as the Philippine Ports Authority and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources for its foreshore hatcheries, can venture into reclamations, while managing its land resources, he adds. 

On who checks these land fill projects, other than the PRA, local governments with the power to reclaim its foreshore areas, following due processes and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) can regulate and stop violations. 
In Bohol, where there have been noticed violations of its foreshore areas via reclamations, some of the proponent private citizens however applied for special PRA permits, Canda admits. 

But, pending the granting of these permits, entities continue with their projects, when the right thing should have been to wait for the PRA nod. 

While the local governments can issue cease and desist orders, the DENR also issued Administrative Order No. 20, which set the guidelines on the issuance of permits over reclamations and special patent reclaimed lands. 

Such power is also under its role as manager, conservator and overseer of the natural resources of the State, where it exercises exclusive jurisdiction on the management and disposition of all lands of the public domain. 

This also allows the DENR to decide whether areas under water should be reclaimed or not" and, subject to the approval of the President, "whether reclaimed lands should be classified as alienable and disposable under Sections 6 and 7 of Commonwealth Act No. 141. 

On this, reclamation proponents need to coordinate with governments and the DENR who validate the plans before these are endorsed to the PRA for appropriate action, he explained. 

But with the illegal reclamations in Bohol, especially in Tagbilaran, local governments and the DENR, on whose jurisdiction these land fills occur are in the perfect position to have stopped the activities. 

DENR admits they have issued cease and desist orders and notices of violations, but proponents simply tell them their PRA papers are on the way. 

With that, reclamations are there.

Canda however assured that reclamations, be they legal or illegal, would have to be registered to the PRA, before the government could award the reclaimed lots to developers.

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