Issue of December 1, 2019
Mt. Province
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PENRO opposes zoo in Sto Tomas
by Rimaliza A. Opiña

The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (Penro) of Benguet is not sold to the idea of establishing a zoo within the Sto. Tomas Reservation in Tuba, Benguet.

Benguet-Penro Head Carlos Arida, Sr. said putting up a zoo in Sto. Tomas will violate the Permanent Protection Order issued by the Court of Appeals banning any human activity in the reservation.

“There is a PEPO covering Sto. Tomas. ‘Yung bumisita nga doon hindi pwede. We are for status quo,” Arida said.

He issued the remarks during the International Conference on Food, Environment, and Culture where the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture and Aquatic Resources and Research Development (PCAARRD) was asked to comment on the proposal by a private firm to establish a zoo in Baguio City.

To recall, Avilon Wildlife Conservation Foundation earlier proposed to the city government to establish a zoo at the Botanical Garden and Mayor Benjamin Magalong offered the firm to also consider the city government property in Sto. Tomas, which is much wider than Botanical.

Dr. Leila America, chief science research specialist of the DOST-PCAARRD, said the issue is more a concern of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, particularly the Biodiversity Management Bureau.

She, however, said before the proposed zoo could be established, the proponents need to secure permits from the DENR.

“The DENR should know about it because there are permits that must be secured first,” America said.

Arida, who was one of the conference participants, said his office will not agree to the establishment of a zoo in Sto. Tomas.

“I will not agree to the proposal to establish a zoo in Sto. Tomas if it will (be endorsed) to my office (for action),” he said.

While acknowledging that the city government may have a property in the area, he said the majority of the forest reservation falls within the territorial jurisdiction of Tuba, Benguet.

“The city might have a claim in the area, but the recognition is more in Tuba,” said Arida.

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