ALTHOUGH economic growth awaits Bantayan Island, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said it is everybody’s responsibility to protect their environment and heritage.
The governor’s pronouncement came after the House of Representatives approved a bill removing Bantayan Island from the wilderness protected zone category.
Rep. Janice Salimbangon (Cebu, 4th district) filed House Bill (HB) 3861 in August 2019 to rationalize the management of natural resources in the towns of Bantayan, Madridejos and Sta. Fe.
Salimbangon’s husband and predecessor, former congressman Benhur, also filed a similar bill before the 17th Congress.
It was already approved on third and final reading on Aug. 2, 2018, but due to time constraints, its process was stalled in the Senate.
HB 3861 provides for the rationalization of the management of certain lands in Bantayan Island from wilderness into agricultural, commercial, residential, industrial and for other “similar productive purposes must be the government’s initiative to answer the needs of the time.”
For Garcia, the passage of the bill is a move in the right direction as it opens the gates to economic development for islanders.
“Bantayan will become more attractive to investors because the lots there will now be alienable. I think that bill will eventually be passed into law,” she said on Friday, Nov. 15, 2019.
However, Garcia said overdevelopment might be a possible consequence to this development.
“It can happen to any other destination if the proper regulations are not put in place or laws not followed. It’s a challenge to chief executives tasked primarily with the duty to protect the environment and the people,” she said.
SunStar Cebu tried to reach Mayors Art Despi (Bantayan), Salvador dela Fuente (Madridejos) and Ithamar Espinosa (Sta. Fe) for their comment, but they were not available as of press time. (RTF)