MANILA (Mabuhay) — The House of Representatives passed on third and final reading a bill that would shorten the process of reverting abandoned fishponds into forestlands.
House Bill 5845 of Bulacan Fourth District Representative Linabelle Ruth Villarica stipulates the conversion of fishponds that have remained idle for three years back into forestlands.
The proposed measure seeks to amend Section 43 of Presidential Decree No. 705 or the Revised Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines.
PD 705 only requires the reversal of mangroves and other swamps leased by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources for fishpond purposes after remaining idle for five years.
“Environmental laws must be attuned to the demands of climate change as well as the socio-economic needs of the increasing number of people living in our communities,” Villarica said.
The fishponds could be utilized for mangrove propagation or promotion of eco-tourism activities to jump-start the economy of communities wanting in socio-economic development, Villarica said.
The bill further states that all mangrove swamps set aside for coast-protection purposes shall be spared from clear-cutting operations.
The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources are mandated to outline a set of guidelines to determine abandoned, undeveloped or underutilized fishponds covered by fishpond lease agreements.