GMA's Edict on Protection of E. Samar Forests Lauded; Extensive Damage to Life and Property on Island Noted
Byline: : LUCINO REBAMONTAN
BORONGAN, Eastern Samar Estehanons (residents of Eastern Samar) reacted with jubilation to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyos decision to declare 333,300 hectares of forestlands in the three Samar provinces as the Samar Island Natural Park (SINP) and approximately 124,000 hectares as buffer zone to serve as watershed area.
Proclamation 442, dated Aug. 13, mandates the protection of Samar island's remaining forests in 37 municipalities from the onslaught of slash-and burn kaingeros, mining and logging companies.
The 37 municipalities are San Julian, Arteche, Borongan, Balangkayan, Balangiga, Can-Avid, Dolores, Gen. MacArthur, Giporlos, Hernani, Jipapad, Lawaan, Llorente, Maslog, Maydolong, Oras, Quinapodan, Sulat and Taft, in Eastern Samar.
Basey, Calbiga, Catbalogan, Gandara, Hinabangan Jiabong, Marabut, Matuguinao, Motiong, Paranas, San Jorge, San Jose de Buan, Pinabacdao and Calbayog City in Samar province, Catubig, Las Navas, Lope de Vega, Mondragon and Silvino Lubos in Northern Samar.
The proclamation covers roughly onefourth of the total area of Samar Island, the country's largest after Luzon and Mindanao.
In Proclamation No. 442, the President noted that the three Samar provinces has "suffered and sustained extensive damages to life and property caused by devastating flashfloods and landslides" triggered by the continuing denudation of the island's forest cover.
She pointed out that in 1996, "after identifying that the rapacious exploitation and massive extraction of natural resources within the forest of Samar Island were the primary causes of the catastrophic calamities which resulted in unwarranted loss of human lives and misery to thousands of Samarenos due to soil erosion and floodings," then President Fidel V. …