Press Release
November 28, 2006


The Mount Balatukan range located in Northern Mindanao will be transformed into a protected natural park under a bill now being deliberated in Congress.

Senate Bill 2519, introduced by Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. seeks the creation of the Mt. Balatukan Range Natural Park and the areas within its periphery as its buffer zone.

The bill provides that Mt. Balatukan Range Natural Park and its peripheral areas shall be considered part of the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS).

The Mt. Balatukan Range Natural Park shall cover lands of the public domain located in the city of Gingoog and the municipalities of Claveria, Medina and Balingasag, all within the province of Misamis Oriental.

Senate Bill 2519 is a counterpart measure of House Bill 5839 sponsored by Rep. Danilo P. Lagbas (1st district of Misamis Oriental).

In seeking the recognition of the Mt. Balatukan Range as a protected area under the category of natural park, Pimentel cited the physical, natural features and socio-cultural and economic importance of the mountain range that contributes to its valuable role as life support system for the people living within its vicinity.

Pimentel said the bill also takes cognizance of the profound impact of mans activities on all components of the natural environment particularly the effects of increasing population, resource exploitation and industrial advancement.

Recognizing the critical importance of protecting and maintaining Mt. Balatukan Ranges unique biological resources, its ecological and aesthetic importance to sustain human life and development, as well as plant and animal life, it is hereby declared the policy of the state to ensure its protection and conservation and preserve and promote the culture and way of life of the communities therein in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature, the bill states.

In so doing, the state shall ensure the protection and conservation of its biological diversity, promote sustainable and participatory development, and honor and protect the interests of legitimate inhabitants and their customary laws.

Under the bill, natural park refers to the relatively large area not materially altered by human activity where extractive resource uses are not allowed, and maintained to protect outstanding natural and scenic uses of national or international significance for scientific, educational and recreational use.

Protected area refers to the identified portions of land and water, set aside by reasons of their unique physical and biological significance, managed to enhance biological diversity, and protected against destructive human exploitation.

The National Integrated Protected Area System refers to the classification and inclusion of all designated areas into one system pursuant to Republic Act 7586 (NIPAS Act of 1992) to maintain essential ecological processes and life support systems, to preserve genetic diversity, to ensure sustainable use of resources found therein, and to maintain their natural conditions to the greatest extent possible.

The bill envisions the creation of a Protected Area Management Board, which shall be the policy-making body of the Mt. Balatukan Range Natural Park.

The board shall be composed, among others, of the regional executive director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region 10 who shall act as chairman; the provincial governor of Misamis Oriental as co-chairman; the respective mayors of the municipalities and city with the territory inside the protected area or their authorized representatives; one representative from each barangay with the territory inside the protected area; and one representative from each indigenous cultural community within the protected area.

The bill also seeks to create a Protected Area Superintendent (PASu) within the DENR, who shall serve as the chief operating officer of the Mt. Balatukan Range Natural Park,

It also establishes the Protected Area Fund for the Mt. Balatukan Range Natural Park as a special trust fund and shall be disbursed solely for the protection, maintenance, administration and management of the protected area.

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