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Monday, June 24, 2024

DENR scraps agreement with Socorro group

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THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources on Monday canceled its agreement with Socorro Bayanihan Services Inc. (SBSI) to manage a 353-hectare protected area in Surigao del Norte.

Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga said the closure order was served yesterday, following the cancellation of the Protected Area Community-Based Resource Management Agreement (PACBRMA) No. 74007 of the supposed cult SBSI, led by Jay Rence Quilario, alias Señor Aguila.

The agency directed residents to “self-demolish their houses and to harvest their crops within a reasonable amount of time.”

Yulo-Loyzaga said she is set to meet Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos, Social Welfare Secretary Rex Gatchaluan, and the provincial governor to finalize the plans for the reintegration and resettlement of 1,425 households to be affected by the cancellation.

After a thorough investigation, the DENR found violations, such as the establishment of settlement/residence in the protected area; establishment of checkpoints strictly regulating the entry of people;

Failure to submit monthly, quarterly or annual report; and establishment of infrastructure not within the plan, such as new access roads, a basketball court, a wave pool, a recording studio and a radio station.

A PACBRMA is a legal instrument between the DENR and tenured migrant groups to develop and conserve a portion of a protected area for 25 years, the department said.

Last September 2023, the DENR suspended its agreement with the SBSI.

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