By Nonoy E. Lacson
Zamboanga City — The House Committee on Environment has approved House Bill 124, declaring the Pasonanca watershed forest reserve here as a “protected area” under the category of natural park.
This was disclosed by Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat, who hailed the approval of the bill at the committee level and expressed confidence that it will breeze through the plenary in the House, as well as the Senate.
Lobregat said that once HB 124 is passed into law, the Pasonanca natural park will become a protected area and will be provided with the necessary funding by the national government for its preservation.
Coordinated management schemes among stakeholders and interest groups and necessary funding mechanism for sustainability if the park’s operations will also be realized once the bill becomes a law.
The Pasonanca Natural Park and its buffer zones are situated in Zamboanga City with a total land area of 17,414 hectares.
It embraces Barangays Pasonanca, Lumayang, Tolosa, Bungiao, Dulian, Baluno, Salaan, Cacao, Lunzuran, La Paz, Lapakan, and Lamisahan. At least 90% of the primary growth dipterocarp forest is still presently intact.
Pasonanca Natural Park is also one of only three remaining watersheds in the country.
Lobregat said HB 124 encountered smooth sailing at the House committee level because it has already been approved in the 15th and 16 Congresses.
As such, there was not much deliberation on HB 124 in the current Congress.