DENR set to dismantle floating restaurant in Taal Lake

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is set to dismantle the restaurant built by a Korean businessman on the lake bed of Taal Lake next week, it was announced today by DENR-CALABARZON Executive Director Reynulfo Juan. 

Juan, who also sits as chairman of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) of the Taal Volcano Protected Landscape (TVPL), said the move to dismantle the restaurant came after the company Taal Volcano Jung Ang Leisure Resort, Inc. (TVJALRI) failed to submit appropriate permits for the construction and operation of the restaurant during a technical conference called by the DENR last June 27.

As a result, said Juan, TVPL Protected Area Superintendent (PASu) Laudemir Salac issued a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) against TVJALRI, which he (Salac) personally served on Thursday (June 28), together with representatives from Talisay local government and Environmental Management Bureau (EMB)-Region 4A.

“Along with the CDO, the company was also given a week to vacate the restaurant before the scheduled dismantling next week,” Juan said, adding that the regional office is now coordinating with the provincial government of Batangas, the local government of Talisay and other concerned entities to assist in the dismantling operation.

In his report to DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje, Juan said earlier, on May 16, 2012, the Korean company was already issued a Notice of Violation by PASu Salac for the construction of the restaurant, an extended facility of the Buco Resort of Taal Volcano, without the necessary permits in violation of Republic Act 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act.

However, on May 24, 2012, a certain Ms. Kim Young Ok of TVJALRI wrote a letter to Salac “requesting for a reasonable period to verify the status of their operation” relative to the violations cited in the NOV.

“But during the technical conference on June 27, the officials of TVJALRI failed to show any appropriate permits for the restaurant,” Juan said.

           

Juan stressed that the decision to dismantle the restaurant was a result of a series of investigative actions that had been conducted by the DENR since May of this year, wherein the TVJALRI had been accorded due process. This included, according to him, the issuance of the NOV and the conduct of a meeting that allowed the owners “to bring with them all their permits and clearances to verify their veracity and to determine the legality of their structures.” The owners, however, were not able to present any such documents.

Juan explained that the dismantling of the restaurant and all other illegal structures in the lake is also in keeping with the lake’s management plan crafted by local government units and other stakeholders to preserve not only the ecosystem therein but also its important biodiversity, notably the tawilis and maliputo which are endemic to the lake.

He also said that the dismantling of illegal structures in Taal Lake has been a continuing activity of the DENR since June 12, 2008, in coordination with the Task Force Taal Lake created by the provincial government of Batangas.

As of May 4, 2012, Juan said a total of 7,375 fish cages and other floating structures within the lake had been dismantled.

The Taal Volcano Protected Landscape was proclaimed a protected area in 1996 under Presidential Proclamation No. 923.
 

 

EnvironmentNatural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje rallied last week his field officials to ensure the success of the National Greening Program, saying the program has full support of the President.

    “There is no reason to fail considering that President Aquino has amply given all the support this program (NGP) needs to succeed,” Paje told the regional executive directors (REDs),  regional technical directors, and the provincial and community environment and natural resources officers (PENROs, CENROs) attending the 2-day National Convention of Field Officers held May 31-June 1, 2011 at the DENR Social Hall in Quezon City.

    Paje also challenged the field officials “to give their best shot” as their performance in implementing the NGP will be “highly taken into consideration’ in the evaluation of officials for promotions.
 
“Those who will be performing will be rewarded. Wala pong biro yan,” Paje said, stressing that the field officers will be evaluated fairly based on a purely-merit system “without regard for personal ties or past associations” he has made through over 20 years at the DENR where he started his career as a casual forester.

Paje said the NGP-driven performance-based incentive scheme will first zero in on the PENRO and CENRO positions, with an instruction to DENR Assistant Secretary for Management and Finance Corazon Davis to reserve the vacant PENRO and CENRO posts as rewards for NGP’s top performers especially those that are on an acting capacity. 

“If you are a CENRO, you will automatically become a PENRO.  Those who are not yet full-pledged CENRO (with temporary appointment), we will make you full-pledged CENROs. Performance lamang, wala nang iba,”  Paje stressed. 

Of the 168 CENRO plantilla positions, 47 have yet to be filled;  while 25 remain vacant in the 73 PENRO  plantilla posts.

The incentive scheme forms part of Paje’s overall program to strengthen DENR’s performance-based promotion system to beef up the national leadership’s efforts in professionalizing the  Philippine bureaucracy.

But Paje was quick to clarify that the quality of their performance will be determined by the survival of the seedling declared in their performance and not merely on the number of seedling planted.

“Remember, the NGP is a national priority program of President Aquino, and this is not for show but for grow. Gone are the days when tree planting activities were just to set world records or just for photo opportunities,” Paje noted.

At the same time, Paje asked “doubting Thomases” to be forthcoming this early with their hesitation to go all out to meet their targets to allow for management to act appropriately in their particular case.

“We will make sure that everybody performs. Kung sino sa inyo ang tingin ay hindi kayang ipatupad ang programang ito, sabihin na ninyo ngayon,” Paje said.

The performance-based incentive will be based on the field officials’ scorecard in the  yearly targets given them and will be validated with the use of state-of-the art technology such as satellite mapping and internet-based technology through NGP’s website at the www.ngp.denr.gov.ph