House passes Villarica’s bill reverting abandoned fishponds to forestlands
The House of Representatives has approved on final reading a proposed bill filed by Bulacan 4th District Rep. Linabelle Villarica reverting fishponds that have been unutilized or abandoned for three years to forestlands.
Villarica said House Bill 5845 seeks to amend Section 43 of Presidential Decree No. 705, otherwise known as the Revised Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines.
Under PD 705, mangroves and other swamps released by Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for fishpond purposes that have been unutilized and abandoned for a period of five years should revert to the category of forestland.
Villarica’s bill shortens the period of reverting the unused fishponds to forestlands from five to three years, which could spur socio-economic development in the countryside.
“Environmental laws must be attuned to the demands of climate change as well as the socio-economic needs of the increasing number of people living in our communities,” the Bulacan lawmaker said.
According to Villarica, the abandoned fishponds could be utilized for mangrove propagation or promotion of eco-tourism activities to jumpstart the economy of communities wanting in socio-economic development.
Under the bill, all mangrove swamps set aside for coast-protection purposes shall not be subject to clear-cutting operation.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) are mandated to prepare a set of joint guidelines to determine abandoned, undeveloped or under-utilized fishponds covered by Fishpond Lease Agreements (FLAs), it stated.
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