DENR told to defer Benguet’s updated land area

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LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The municipal council urged the Cordillera office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-CAR) to hold in abeyance the submission of the updated land area of the capital town and the twelve other municipalities of Benguet until such time that legitimate issues and concerns raised against the outcome of the aforesaid survey results.

Councilor Nestor ‘Bobot’ T. Fongwan, Jr., who is an ex-officio member of the Benguet provincial board being the president of the Philippine Councilors League (PCL) Benguet chapter, disclosed that based on the updated land area of La Trinidad as per the recent study conducted by the DENR-CAR, the same will be significantly reduced from the present 7,004 hectares to only 5,873.51 hectares.

He pointed out that the reduction in the municipality’s land area will definitely have an impact on the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) being given by the national government to the municipality in the future that will have an effect on the expected implementation of priority development projects and the enhancement in the delivery of basic services to the people in the town’s 16 barangays.

Earlier, the DENR informed provincial and municipal officials last year on the updated land area of the province’s 13 municipalities which will be due for submission to the agency’s central office for the revision of the land area of local governments in the different parts of the country.

Fongwan asserted that the results of the updated land area of La Trinidad and the other municipalities should be subjected to public consultation with the concerned stakeholders and for evaluation and re-assessment by the concerned local governments to allow the same to contest the outcome of the aforesaid study that caused the significant reduction in the town’s land area.

Worst, the alderman noted that during the recent presentation of the representatives of the Surveys and Mapping Division of the DENR-CAR, it was observed that 10 of the 13 municipalities in the province will realize a significant reduction in their land area that will greatly affect their annual IRA from the national government.

According to him, the implementation of the updated land area of the capital town and other municipalities that will result to the reduction of their IRA is untimely because it will also have a negative impact on the efforts of the local government to contain the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and related COVID response initiatives to allow their constituents to be able to recover from the effects of the pandemic to their previous productive activities.

Fongwan emphasized that the DENR should be circumspect in finalizing the results of their survey so that the greater interest of the local governments will not be compromised that will cause the depletion of resources in the different municipalities which will have a serious negative impact in the delivery of the appropriate services to the people living in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

The provincial board and other municipal councils are expected to come out with similar resolutions to compel the DENR-CAR to defer the submission of such survey results amidst the tremendous pressure being employed by higher authorities. By HENT