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Benguet rep. Yap calls out DENR to ease “anti-people” restrictions at Mt. Sto Tomas

Benguet lawmaker Eric Go Yap called out the Department of Environment and Natural Resources–Cordillera Administrative Region (DENR-CAR) to ease “unreasonable” and “anti-people” restrictions on local residents in Mt. Santo Tomas in Tuba, Benguet.

Yap in a brief dialogue with Sto Tomas residents came to know how residents are deprived of economic activities including even barred from repairing their houses even after experiencing typhoons and other natural disasters, including the absence of legitimate source of electricity, among others.

“We’ve been consistently hearing their predicaments over the past few years brought about by the issuance of the Writ of Kalikasan in 2015. More painful was until yesterday when I witnessed first hand how their lives were miserably affected by the Writ,” Rep. Yap said.

Yap had written Engineer Ralph Pablo, regional director of the DENR–CAR about the Sto Tomas residents concerns and urged immediate attention and action. “Isa sa mga immediate needs sana nila is yung legitimate source ng kuryente. Imagine, walang kuryente yung mga bahay dun para sa mga essential needs nila at ng mga batang nag-aaral online. Hindi tama. Kaya tayo nakipag-coordinate sa DENR para mabigyan sila ng clerance na makapag-apply ng power source for households,” the Benguet lawmaker said.

Yap reiterated in his letter to Pablo that “the rationale for the issuance of the order is to ensure environmental protection and it does not, in any way or form, remove the rights of the residents to decent living condition.”

The Benguet lawmaker appealed that Sto Tomas residents be given a clearance certificate that will allow for the installation of power supply in existing households for humanitarian reasons.

DENR had earlier denied residents please for clearance certificates insisiting on the issued Writ of Kalikasan.

Yap also said numerous areas similar to the terrain of Mount Santo Tomas were allowed to be developed, hence, residents there should also be given consideration. “Maraming problema yung mga kababayan natin dun. Walang school para sa mga bata kasi bawal magpatayo, walang economic activities, walang kuryente, ang hirap ng access sa social services. It will take a much bigger effort pero we will do our best to relax the implementation and enforcement sana to ensure yung rights to decent living conditions ng mga residents dun. Ilang dekada na sila nandun, tapos biglang tinanggalan sila ng karapatan. Maling mali,” the lawmaker stressed.

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