The Caraga Regional Development Council (RDC) headed by Gov. Sol Matugas of Surigao del Norte consulted the Siargao stakeholders on the region’s goal to become the Fishery, Agro-forestry, mineral, and Eco-tourism (FAmE) center of the country on April 13, 2018 at Kapitolyo Nan Siargao, Dapa, Surigao del Norte.

During the consultation, FAmE-related agencies presented their programs and projects for Siargao. These agencies include: the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), and Department of Tourism (DOT). Meanwhile, some support agencies were also present, namely: Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and Department of Health (DOH).

Some of the issues raised during the consultation are on land conversion; rising prices of basic commodities; environmental preservation; fishery development; tourism development; trade and industry; science and technology; and health.

On land conversion, it was agreed that local government units (LGUs) must ensure that the required Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) and Certificate of Land Use Conversion from the Department of Agrarian Reform are complied with before issuance of business permits. In relation to this, the RDC will lead a two-day orientation on Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) formulation, ECC processing, and land use conversion procedure, among other issues.

On observed increase in prices of commodities, LGUs are encouraged to organize or activate their Local Price Coordinating Councils in coordination with DTI.

On environment-related concerns, the DENR was tasked to prepare a Wetland Development Plan. Also, the DENR and LGUs have to first secure clearance from Department of Public Works and Highways before planting trees along the roads.The participants also agreed that same species of tree will be planted in every area for aesthetics purposes. Further, LGUs are encouraged to explore the sea forest approach. Furthermore, DENR commits to act on the concerns raised on the alleged tenurial instruments issued covering small islets and mangrove areas in Siargao Islands.

On fishery-development concerns, LGUs are encouraged to: consider declaring close season for fishing; and regulate shipping-out of fishery products to ensure that there is adequate food supply for locals.

On tourism-development related concerns, LGUs are encouraged to prioritize hiring of local tourism staff. DENR is also requested to look into the request of Dapa to identify areas suitable for farm tourism. DOT and LGUs are tasked to craft a 3-year Siargao Islands Tourism Development Plan; diversify tourism attractions and packages to include spiritual and farm tourism; and to professionalize tour guiding and strengthen home stay as alternative to resorts.

On environmental regulations, EMB is tasked to report the resorts and/or establishments operating without ECC or with ECC but have failed to comply with the conditionalities and its recommendations. EMB is also strongly urged to implement measures or sanctions for non-compliant establishments.

On health services, DOH is requested to study, if not assess, the viability of existing district hospitals even if there is a plan to establish a Cuban Model Polyclinic and a tertiary level hospital in Dapa, Siargao Islands.

On Science, Technology and Innovation related concerns, DOT is requested to adopt the Food Inspection and Safety Standard in the accreditation of tourism-related establishments.

The consultation was attended by Rep. Francisco Jose Matugas II (1st District of Surigao del Norte), SP Elizabeth Matugas (1st District of Surigao del Norte), Mayor Emmanuel Arcena of Burgos, SB Peter Jade Ruaya of Dapa, Mayor Alfredo Corro II of Del Carmen, Vice Mayor Veronico Soroso of General Luna, Mayor Maria Liza Resurreccion of Pilar, and Mayor Lamberto Domiños of San Isidro.

Assisting Governor Matugas were NEDA-Caraga Regional Director Mylah Faye Aurora Cariño, ARD Roy Kantuna, and technical staffs from NEDA-Caraga and concerned regional line agencies.

Sherwin E. Verdun, NEDA-Caraga