The Barangay Council of Dona Josefa of Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay has banned the entry of vehicles and persons to Busay Falls to “avoid further damage to the watershed area” through an ordinance found loaded with inconsistent provisions.
In the explanatory note of Ordinance No. 22 series of 2019, the council noted that “in order to attract more tourist to the falls a road concreting project is being implemented leading to the said waterfalls.”
“However, in the course of the implementation of the contractor of the road, did not follow strictly the program of work but instead, intruded inside the watershed protected area thereby causing heavy damage to the place and totally destroying the beauty of the waterfalls,” it further noted.
The ordinance authorized the barangay captain to “assign members of the watershed security task force to prevent any vehicles or persons to enter phase 3 project area.”
In an interview in February this year with the members of Dona Josefa Watch, a local environmental group, the barangay captain, Eduard Alimpos, said the area leading to the Busay Falls does not belong to Barangay Dona Josefa but to Barangay Tomitom.”
Since the area is outside the territory of the barangay, under the scope of powers of the barangay council as stipulated in the Local Government Code of 1991, the council cannot enact a measure that is outside of its territorial jurisdiction making the enacted measure null and void at the beginning.
The council said the contractor of the road did not follow the program of work and “intruded inside the watershed protected area” causing heavy damage to the place.
In an interview, however, with the engineers of the Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH) last March, the Phase 3 of the tourism road project was designed to construct a road concrete road inside the watershed area leading to the Busay Falls. The project implemented by the contractor was already inside the watershed area and what the contractor did was follow the design.
It was found out by Dona Josefa Watch that the damage to the portion of the watershed area leading to the falls was due to the road project developed and implemented inside the watershed area.
The project should have not been developed, proposed, and implemented in the first place, the group said.
The council authorized the barangay captain to “assign members of the watershed security task force.”
Being a locally-declared Protected and Watershed Area, the Dona Josefa Watershed Management Council, which the Barangay Council of Dona Josefa is a member, has the sole authority to enact measure pertaining to the assignment of the watershed security task force if there is.
In an interview early this year with Felix Badon, head of the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (MENRO), he said the watershed area has no forest guards assigned to the place. (John Mahusay/ Mindanao Sun)