WITH an overwhelming 284 affirmative votes, a measure seeking to reforest and rehabilitate fishponds that have been abandoned or unutilized for three years was approved by members of the House of Representatives on third and final reading Monday.
House Bill (HB) No. 7754 aimed at amending Sec. 43 of Presidential Decree No. 705 or the “Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines” and reduced from five years to three years the period needed to reforest unutilized or abandoned fishponds and calls for their immediate rehabilitation.
“This measure also aims to address the ill effects of climate change by actively promoting reforestation in areas that can be planted with trees. Instead of remaining an idle asset, these abandoned or unutilized fishponds can now be used to help in efforts to safeguard and protect the environment,” Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said.
The main objective of HB 7754 is to expedite the reversion of unutilized or abandoned fishponds to forest lands so that these can be “immediately rehabilitated and reforested,” as required under the measure.
It also mandates the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to jointly set guidelines in the determination and rehabilitation of abandoned, undeveloped or underutilized fishponds covered by Fishpond Lease Agreements.
It was deliberated on and approved in the House committee on natural resources chaired by Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga.