By Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr.
PILAR, Sorsogon, 14Aug2015 (BicolToday.com) – If the position of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources will not change Panumbagan Sandbar an eco-tourism site long develop by LGU Pilar with the help of Sorsogon province may end up in private hands because of its scheduled oral public bidding by October 9 this year.
The sandbar at Barangay Dapdap, Pilar,Sorsogon is a 50,200 square meter land with an appraised value of 11 million 786 thousand pesos covered by foreshoreland lease application in the name of Imelda Perryman tag as FLA NO. 056213-9 now a subject of notice of lease as a public land after DENR-PENRO Sorsogon posted the scheduled of public bidding over a foreshore area locally known as Panumbagan Sandbar.
The strong opposition of LGU Pilar was based on the potentials of the area as an eco-tourism site which was classified by the Department of Tourism Bicol as an emerging eco-tourism product of the Province of Sorsogon and Bicolandia.
The issue was raised by LGU Pilar and the provincial board of Sorsogon because of its potential to be a globally recognized and the regional tourism office of Bicol recently certified that the area is an emerging eco-tourism product accredited by DOT under the tourism convergence programs of ALMASOR (Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon) Tourism alliance complimented by DONPICASO (Donsol-Pilar-Castilla-Sorsogon) sub-cluster for tourism development of the Province of Sorsogon.
It also falls into the criteria of Bottom-Up Budgeting (BuB), and LGSP-LED (Local Government Support Program for Local Economic Development) within the LEDOTI (Legazpi-Donsol-Ticao) corridor aside from its classification by the regional tourism office as an icon of destination.
The sandbar came to be after LGU Pilar Sangguniang Bayan in 2005 approved Municipal Ordinance No.003 establishing the Marine Fishery Reserve and Sanctuary in its municipal water. The Bantayan Island was chosen as the best marine sanctuary. The assessment was made by the Integrated Research Foundation the Bicol University Research Team.
But in a twist the Sangguniang Bayan approved Resolution No.15 in 2007 in support of the Foreshore Lease Application of Imelda Perryman, a native of Pilar and at the same year then municipal mayor Rosemarie Sia was authorized by the council to enter into a memorandum of agreement with Perryman, Barangay Bantayan and DENR-PENRO Sorsogon.
In a reversal the Sangguniang Bayan again passed a resolution in 2013 withdrawing its support to the application for an FLA of Perryman for non-compliance of the conditions stipulated which was questioned by Perryman in a petition to annul and declare Pilar SB Resolution No. 57 of 2007 as null and void with RTC Branch 53 of Sorsogon. Notwithstanding with the civil case, the town decided to develop the Panumbagan Sandbar Island Resort (PSIR) with the funding of the provincial government of Sorsogon.
Succeeding concerns opposing the proposed public bidding was raised in a provincial board Committee Report No. 110-2015 supporting the arguments of LGU Pilar in passing SB Resolution No. 125 by way of Resolution No. 143-2015. The resolution covered the classification of the area by DOT V as a sub-cluster for DONPICASO tourism growth corridor forming the ALMASOR tourism alliance of the provinces of Albay, Masbate and Sorsogon.
The support extended by LGU Sorsogon Province was based on the assessment of LGU Pilar on the increase of tourist arrivals visiting the sandbar and its commitment to enhance the DONPICASO sub-cluster. By far it constructed floating cottages, umbrella huts, octagon walks, lifeguard towers, portable rest rooms and other eco-friendly amenities funding 2.5million pesos in 2013. It likewise provided 2.1 million pesos on its annual budget to support further the area.
The position of DENR-PENRO not to set aside the scheduled oral public bidding on October 9 may pre-empt the decision of the regional trial court if the result of the bidding will not be favorable to Perryman. This was the argument presented by the provincial legal officer when he was sought to comment on the move of DENR-PENRO. To date only Perryman intends to participate in the bidding.
This position was strongly opposed by Sorsogon Province and LGU Pilar in an urgent resolutions requesting the secretary of DENR instead to grant to the municipality of Pilar and the provincial government of Sorsogon joint administration, management and development of Panumbagan Sandbar Island Resort as one of the tourist destination in the province.
It also calls for the cancellation of the notice of lease of Panumbagan Sandbar and to recall the scheduled public bidding.
On its notice to lease the public land DENR-PENRO said that the “right to lease the land will be awarded to the person offering the highest annual rental…” clarifying that the notice of lease of public land are made and released upon the instruction and the authority of the DENR-Regional Office and the local PENRO has no authority to cancel it, thus the strong opposition of the concerned local government.
The local government units said that Panumbagan Sandbar should be better left to the local authorities to find ways to develop on how it would bring into play domestic tourism to open opportunities to local tourism industry. [BicolToday.com]