PAEMB backs city’s move to own 5 lots on Sta. Cruz Island PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 13 September 2014 12:00

The Protected Area and Ecotourism Management Board (PAEMB) in a meeting yesterday afternoon passed a resolution supporting the initiative of the city government to transfer, turnover or donate at least five lots on the Great Sta. Cruz Island from the Republic of the Philippines to the City of Zamboanga.

The move of PAEMB, the policy-making body of the Great and Little Sta. Cruz Islands Protected Landscape and Seascape (GLSCIPLS), was supportive of Mayor Beng Climaco’s request for the city government to own, manage, protect and preserve the lots instead of privatizing them.

Records from the City Assessor’s Office showed that the five parcels of land with an aggregate area 104,891 situated on the Great Sta. Cruz Island off (facing the Island of Basilan) were titled under the names of the Republic of the Philippines/C. Lind.

The subject lots, being under the national government, were also managed by the Privatization and Management Office (PMO), Office of the President, whose representative came to the city on May 23, 2014 and conducted a site inspection of the lots with the assistance of the city government.

It can be recalled, the Department of Tourism, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), formerly the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA), the City of Zamboanga, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-9) and PAEMB signed a memorandum of agreement in June 2011, transferring the development, management maintenance, operation, conservation and protection of Great and Little Sta. Cruz Islands to the City Of Zamboanga.

Considering that the entire Great Sta. Cruz Island is part of the protected landscape pursuant to RA 7586 known as the National Integrated Protected Areas Systems (NIPAS) Act of 1992, Mayor Climaco deemed it proper and necessary for the city government to develop, manage, protect and conserve the entire island to include the subject lots thereon.

In a related development, the PAEMB also approved another resolution that seeks to prohibit or regulate maritime navigation in the area between the Great and Little Sta. Cruz Islands, following observation that the sea between the two islands was used for dynamite and other illegal modes of fishing, thus destroying its maritime resources.

The Board also observed that a shoal would emerge between the islands during low tide, thus posing danger especially to wooden-hulled watercrafts.

It was agreed though that passage between the islands may be limited to vessels used for scientific maritime research and tourism purposes, provided prior permission is given by PAEMB.— Vic Larato