March 7 ------ Arroceros Forest Park, dubbed as Manila City’s last lung, will now be a “permanent forest park,” the city government announced after the signing of a city ordinance. Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso recently signed Ordinance No. 8607 or the Arroceros Forest Park Ordinance, declaring the parcel of land along Arroceros Street, formerly known as “Decs Property” a permanent forest park. According to the ordinance, the city government will allocate P1 million for the operation of the 2.2-hectare-wide park that houses more than 3,000 trees and 8,000 plants.
This is pursuant to Republic Act No. 5752, or the “Local Autonomy Act” which mandates cities to establish, develop and maintain a permanent forest, tree parks or watersheds within public land. The local chief executive vowed to protect the park while he was campaigning for the mayoralty post in 2016 after it came under threat under the former administration. A plan to build a gymnasium inside Arroceros Forest Park, that was outlined by the former Manila administration, earned flak from Manila residents and environmentalists, among others.
“The use and enjoyment of the Arroceros Forest Park must be consistent with the principles of sustainable develoment and the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology,” the ordinance read. An Arroceros Forest Park Governing Committee, which will be tasked to formulate a management plan for the maintenance and operations of the park, will be assigned by the city government. Peace officers, who are tasked to issue citations against violators, will also be designated. Under the ordinance, cutting trees, dumping waste products and any form of excavation within the area of the forest park are prohibited.
Violators will have to pay a P2,500 fine for their first offense, P3,500 fine for their second offense, and P5,000 fine and or imprisonment not exceeding one year depending on the court’s discretion for their third offense.