DENR to stop issuing permits, agreements for use of protected areas

Iya Gozum

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DENR to stop issuing permits, agreements for use of protected areas
This comes after the DENR suspended its agreement with the Socorro Bayanihan Services Inc. that granted the latter use of over 300 hectares of protected land in Surigao del Norte

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is set to suspend the issuance of tenurial instruments over protected areas, an official said on Wednesday, October 18.

“We will be issuing a memorandum to all regional directors to suspend for the meantime the acceptance [or] issuance of all applications for tenurial instruments pending review of this policy,” said DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leones during the Senate hearing on the department’s proposed budget for 2024.

Leones said this was an instruction given on Tuesday, October 17 by Environment Secretary Toni Yulo-Loyzaga.

The DENR issues a Special Use Agreement in Protected Areas (Sapa) to individuals, groups, and companies who intend to use protected lands for ecotourism, communication facilities, transmission lines, aquaculture, agroforestry, forest plantation, irrigation canals and waterways, and scientific monitoring stations. These are specified under the DENR Administrative Order No. 2007-17.

Sapa is a type of tenurial instrument granted by the DENR, along with forest land use agreements, mineral agreements, financial or technical assistance agreements, among others.

“There are also special uses that are allowed within protected areas because of location and geography for public and private infrastructures,” said DENR Assistant Secretary Marcial Amaro during the hearing.

Tenurial instruments are leases, permits, agreements, joint venture or production sharing agreements, and licenses. The DENR enters into these agreements with project proponents for various reasons: conservation, exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources.

This comes after the DENR suspended last September the Protected Area Community-Based Resource Management Agreement (PACBRMA) of the controversial “cult” Socorro Bayanihan Services Incorporated based in Surigao del Norte.

Through the PACBRMA, the group was able to use over 300 hectares of protected land. The agreement is normally granted by the DENR to a tenured migrant community, a group of people living in the protected area at least five years before it was declared as such.

The DENR earlier said that it will also review other PACBRMAs in the area which cover hundreds of hectares of protected lands. (READ: DENR action could have stopped Socorro ‘cult’ child abuse – Hontiveros)

The DENR did not elaborate further on this after Leones’ statement during the Senate hearing. –

A brief history of Socorro Bayanihan Services Incorporated

A brief history of Socorro Bayanihan Services Incorporated

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Iya Gozum

Iya Gozum covers the environment, agriculture, and science beats for Rappler.