Garcia asks removal of 420 structures in Oslob

THE owners of 420 establishments and residential structures in four coastal barangays in the town of Oslob, Cebu were asked to voluntarily tear down their properties for encroaching on the easement zone.

“I have a favor to ask. Would it be possible for you to voluntarily remove your structures illegally built within the three-meter easement zone?” Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said in Cebuano in a meeting attended by 206 commercial and residential owners.

Garcia was joined by regional officials of the Department of Tourism, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Environmental Management Bureau in a visit to the southern town on Tuesday, March 3, 2020.

The structures were located in four barangays, the first batch of coastal villages subjected to an inventory by the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro) from a total of 15 coastal barangays in Oslob.

The inventory was conducted from January to February in barangays Daanlungsod, Poblacion, Tanawan and Lagunde.

According to the Penro report, a total of 157 commercial establishments and 263 residential structures were illegally built in the four areas.

In Daanlungsod, 20 establishments and 70 houses violated the easement rule, while 33 commercial and 119 residential properties were illegally built in Barangay Poblacion.

In Tanawan, there were 29 establishments and 21 houses constructed within the easement zone, while Penro officials found 15 commercial structures and 53 houses illegally built in Lagunde.

Article 51 of Presidential Decree 1067 provides that: “The banks of rivers and streams and the shores of the seas and lakes throughout their entire length and within a zone of three meters in urban areas, 20 meters in agricultural areas and 40 meters in forest areas, along their margins, are subject to the easement of public use in the interest of recreation, navigation, floatage, fishing and salvage.”

“No person shall be allowed to stay in this zone longer than what is necessary for recreation, navigation, floatage, fishing or salvage or to build structures of any kind,” the law further states.

“These four barangays were qualified based on profiling,” Garcia said in Cebuano.

Penro officer-in-charge Rodel Bontuyan explained that the four villages, now classified as agricultural, may be reclassified into urban by the local government unit since they have passed the qualifications for reclassification which are: a population of 5,000, an establishment with 100 workers, or five establishments with 10 employees each.

“Once they are reclassified, then the three-meter easement can be applied,” Bontuyan said.

Bontuyan said they will start tagging the affected properties next week. (RTF)