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PENRO Antique proposes co-management agreement with LGU  

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources field office in CENRO San Jose, Antique represented by CENRO Jesse L. Vego had recently met with the LGU of Valderrama represented by Mayor Christopher Maguad on a proposal for a co-management agreement of some forest areas of Valderrama Reforestation Project.

Co-Management with the Local Government Units on the different programs and projects is within the 10-point agenda of the national government being directed by DENR Secretary Michael T. Defensor to be adopted and implemented in all regions nationwide. The LGU is the direct recipient of benefits coming from the natural resources within their jurisdiction, hence must have a first-hand responsibility to sustainably manage them.

CENRO Vego disclosed that this is the second municipality under his administrative jurisdiction to enter into an agreement with DENR pursuance to the basic premise of Joint DENR-DILG-LGU Memorandum Circular No. 2003-01 on the subject of strengthening and institutionalizing the DENR-DILG-LGU Partnership on Devolved and other Forest Management functions.  The municipality of San Remegio was the first to have entered into this agreement last November 2004.

In a meeting with the Local Government Officer of Valderrama Berlito Baldevia, CENRO Vego discussed the details about the history of Valderrama Reforestation Project.  It was learned that it came to be subsumed by the LGU thru ex-Mayor Raymundo Roquero in an “approved-in-principle” MOA of then DENR Secretary Victor O. Ramos in 1998, which turned out to have been left unsigned before another new DENR Secretary took over.  DENR conceded that the municipality had developed a part of the project now known as the Villa Valderrama Mountain Resort, however, it never had the proper legal basis for administrative jurisdiction in the forest area based on the provisions of the Forestry Code (PD 705).

The DENR is bent to pursue and cure the defect of the present instrument that has been perceived as a co-management agreement. Co-management is one of the options to be considered by the DENR.  Former Mayor, Mary Joyce Roquero considered adopting the co-management principles for Valderrama in the early part of 2004, for this project to be accredited as an eco-tourism destination, but this did not materialize due to the holding of an election in May that year.

During the meeting, the LGU agreed to form a core group to study the DENR-DILG-LGU Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1 and to make a draft of the preferred co-management principles.  Through a joint planning session with the DENR, the core group will come up with a final version of the agreement for signature of both parties.

Among those who attended the meeting were Forester Russell Rizardo, Nursery Farm Supervisor Marquito Dioso, both of Valderrama Reforestation Project, CENRO Planning Officer Jean Militante and Forest Ranger Jorge Dubria.

DENR 6 RED Celso V. Loriega, Jr. said that this effort of CENRO Antique is a clear manifestation of their commitment to strengthen linkages with the local government for the protection of our natural resources. (CENRO San Jose)