ILOILO CITY, April 1 (PNA) –- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said that the area razed by fire in Barangay Buaya in Sicogon island, Carles, Iloilo is not timberland as has been reported earlier.

Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer Salvador Manglinong, in an interview, said he immediately sent a team to investigate the reported fire incident on March 29, 2014 and that it was learned it did not involve timberland. The fire was also immediately contained by the local residents.

Manglinong instead said the area was considered alienable and disposable and belonged to Sicogon Development Corporation (SIDECO), which is being owned by the Sarrosa family.

The fire incident transpired about 100 meters away from the timberland area and razed the 100-square meter “cogonal area”. The cause of fire, however, is still being determined by authorities until now.

Manglinong also said there’s an about 200-hectare timberland area in Barangay Buaya.

He added they have already warned people not to encroach the timberland area and to stop the illegal cutting of trees.

Sicogon island is the subject of dispute between SIDECO, which is in the midst of redeveloping the island as world class tourist destination, and the Federation of Sicogon Island Farmers and Fisherfolks Association.

The redevelopment of the island has affected illegal settlers many of whom have agreed to be relocated and given housing. However, there are individuals that are staging resistance to the project. (PNA)