PANGLAO, Bohol ? Fresh from its being delisted from the World Heritage Sites (WHS) of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), Panglao island is facing another dilemma that of entry ban on an islet which is privately owned and its surroundings fenced, off this town. More than a hundred residents of coastal barangay Doljo have filed petition before the Sangguniang Bayan here for the said prohibition in said islet, called Pungtud, some called it Virgin island, which is a part of barangay Poblacion. Barangay Kag. Jorge G. Millanes, who acted as barangay chairman, confirmed in an exclusive interview last week of the said written protest. In a separate interview yesterday, Agu Cloribel, relative of the islet owners, denied the accusation. He said in phone interview that it?s not true that they ban the entry of visitors to the islet. The said islet if known here and far and wide being visited by tourists and those coming from dive in nearby Balicasag island because of its powdery white sand and sandbar that stretches depending on the sea movement, according to one of the fishermen in a separate interview.
In a check, the said petition is already in the hands of the barangay affairs committee chaired by barangay chairman of Poblacion Julio Sumaylo, who is also an ex-officio member of the Sangguniang Bayan here. The said SB committee has yet to act on the said petition, it was learned. Islet owners The islet is owned by Cloribel and Rodriguez families after they had the OCT land title since 1982. And this is confirmed by Cloribel.
In an ocular visit, a billboard is being posted on the islet showing in bold letters that it is owned a certain Ramon E. Rodriguez and Digna Cloribel Rodriguez. It has an Original Certificate Title (OCT) No. 47376 issued on December 20, 1982. Cloribel said that the said title was signed by then strongman Ferdinand Marcos. He said that there have been two cases relative to ownership filed against the islet owners but were dismissed sometime in the 1990s.
He quoted the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as saying that the cases were already settled and they?re happy (EMB) what they did to the islet?s protection and preservation. Everything was in order,? after that, Cloribel, who apparently defended the position of his relative-owners, said. Development Cloribel said that the family (owners) was confused what to do with the islet.
They decided not to make development there because they anticipated that once they open up for tourism, then trouble would come their way, such as pollution, health and sanitation, that might destroy the ambiance of the islet. But later on, the owners decided to put up a shrine of St. Pio recognized by the clergy. And still the visitors are welcomed, he said. He said what they do now is to regulate the influx to the islet. This is after they found out that the islet was used as profiteering by unscrupulous tour ?bangkeros.? He said that the islet once a haven of solid garbage, such as sacks of syringe, condoms and other rubbish littered the islet. He said that the islet?s rich white sand deposits from the sandbars were being hauled illegally apparently to spruce up a known resort in Mactan islan in Cebu. Cloribel said he wanted the media to visit the islet soon to see for themselves the situation there.
DENR position Tagbilaran-based Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) thru its officer Eusalem Quiwag told radio interview that his office has recommended for cancellation of the said title on the ground that the islet is not within the alienable and disposable (A & D) lands.
He said that they forwarded already the said recommendation to the regional DENR office. But until now it remains to be seen. In a seprate interview, PENRO Forester Nestor Canda said that if the area is not considered A & D, then cancellation of the title of the islet is appropriate. But he cautioned that such case could be a tall order for both the DENR and the owners since it will take so much time. Environmentalist Pat Ruiz, the former city planning officer, told a radio interview that the said islet could probably be within the protected seascape based on the National Integrated Protected Areas Ssytems Act or the Republic Act No. 7586. Included in the landscape is barangay Doljo and the surroundings, she said.
The islet is also within the area being planned for man-made islets of about 450 hectares thru landfill but was halted by the present administration for “environmental grounds,” Cloribel said. (RVO)