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MANTAYUPAN FALLS STRUCTURES VIOLATE EASEMENT
By: Lianne Llesol | Published Wednesday, November 13, 2019
Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and Barili mayor Marlon Garcia check with DENR the compliance status of the establishments operating around the town’s Mantayupan Falls. (Tonee Despojo)

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia discovered some issues regarding the establishments utilizing the Mantayupan Falls in Barangay Campangga, Barili town, southern Cebu.

The governor has previously asked the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) to check on the waterfall, structures presently surrounding it, and the organizations that have benefitted from its waters.

In a meeting held on Tuesday, November 12, it was found out that the facilities sourcing its waters from the falls haven’t secured an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) yet.

The ECC is issued by the Environmental Management Bureau in Central Visayas (EMB-7) indicating that a project will not cause a significant negative impact on the environment.

PENRO’s inspection conducted on November 6 revealed that one of the facilities of Campangga Alayon Multipurpose Cooperative (CAMCO) has encroached the 20-meter easement zone.

CAMCO is managing an eco-resort surrounding the falls and collecting entrance fees from tourists at P40.00 for adults and P20.00 for children and senior citizens.

It has room rentals and function rooms built in the area as well as a multi-purpose hall, canteen, music room, and comfort rooms.

Its room rental facility was seen to be located right beside a stream violating Presidential Decree No. 1067 or the Water Code of the Philippines.

According to Article 51 of the Water Code, projects and facilities are not allowed to stay within an easement zone of “three meters in urban areas, 20 meters in agricultural areas, and 40 meters in forest areas” from banks of rivers and streams and shores of seas and lakes.

To resolve the issue, Barili mayor Marlon Garcia proposed that the facility be transferred to another lot farther away from the stream.

He said there are still available lots on the other side of the facility and would just need a meeting with the land owners for negotiations.

Another commercial facility that is sourcing its waters from the Mantayupan Falls is the A.C. Tilapia Fun Fishing & Resort.

Established in 1985, A.C. Tilapia is an eco-resort that has 22 rooms, 5 cottages, a function hall, restaurant, flower garden and a 4,000sq.m tilapia fishpond.

Garcia expressed that CAMCO and the tilapia farm must apply for ECC as well as discharge permit for all its wastewater.

Mantayupan Falls has also been the source of a mini hydroelectric power plant in the area which is operated by the Cebu Electric Company (CEBECO).

This facility was established by the National Electrification Administration (NEA) in 1985 which was then turned over to the local government.

Capitol consultant Benhur Salimbangon shared that this came about from the mandate of then President Ferdinand Marcos to NEA to utilize bodies of water that has a potential for hydroelectric power plants.

Now, the plant operates mainly at night covering 3-5 hours and has generated 14,728kW power as of September 2019, said Lozano.

Surprised by how little the power the plant has produced, Garcia expressed concerns on whether continuing the plant operations would still be a good idea.

The governor is set to meet CAMCO, A.C. Tilapia Farm, and CEBECO for the power plant separately next month to discuss the findings of the inspection report and work on ways to resolve the issues discovered. (Lianne Llesol)