House panel approves proposal to transform fishponds unused for 3 years into forest land
The House committee on natural resources has approved a proposal allowing the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to revert fishponds unutilized or abandoned for three years, instead of the current five, into forest lands.
The committee, chaired by Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna, approved the proposal in House Bill 854 authored by Rep. Linabelle Ruth Villarica of Bulacan before Congress adjourned.
Villarica said environmental laws must be attuned to the demands of climate change and socio- economic needs of the increasing number of people in communities.
Villarica said Presidential Decree No. 705, known as “The Revised Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines” requires for the DENR to revert fishponds with Fisheries Lease Agreements (FLAB) to forest lands, fishponds must have been unutilized and abandoned for a period of five years from the time these were released.
“The five-year period is deemed too long for such fishponds to be utilized for purposes other than what they were intended for, such as for mangrove propagation to address the devastating effects brought about by climate change or for promoting eco-tourism activities to jumpstart the economy of communities wanting in socio-economic development,” said Villarica.
The bill seeks to amend section 43 of PD 705 titled swamplands and mangrove forests, so “Mangrove and other swamps released to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources for fishpond purposes which are not utilized or which have been abandoned for three years from the date of such release shall revert to the category of forest land.”
“The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources shall determine in a set of joint guidelines, abandoned, undeveloped or underutilized fishponds covered by Fishpond Lease Agreements (FLAs),” the amendment points out. DMS