Cebu’s 5th District Rep. Vincent Franco Frasco is confident that the existing law declaring the entire Camotes group of islands in the province’s eastern seaboard as forest reserve will be lifted through a bill he is pushing in Congress.
Frasco said on Wednesday that last Aug. 25, the House of Representatives passed on third and final reading House Bill No. 4785 seeking to lift the forest reserve declaration on the Camotes islands.
A news release from the capitol quoted Frasco as saying that the proposed measure is expected to be passed into law “hopefully within the next two years” as the measure is now in the Senate.
Once it becomes a law, he said Camotes residents will already be able to apply for land titles.
In 1981, then President Ferdinand Marcos signed Presidential Proclamation No. 2152 declaring the islands of Poro, Ponson and Pacijan – which comprise the Camotes group of islands – as part of the Mangrove Swamps Forest Reserves.
Frasco said once the dry lands in the Camotes are classified as alienable and disposable, the residents will be able to fully exercise their rights as land owners.
This will also mean more investments on the islands that would translate to more job opportunities.
Frasco said once land owners get their titles, investments to the tourist island destination are expected to increase.
He also said he had asked for Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia’s permission to give additional funds for the construction of an airport in Camotes.
Frasco, who is a former mayor of Liloan town, said once the seaport in this northeastern town is completed, the residents of Camotes will have three means of reaching the mainland.
Currently, sea travelers from Camotes only reach the Cebu mainland through the city ports of Lapu-Lapu and Danao. (PNA)