BAUKO, Mountain Province – Mayor Abraham B. Akilit here lashed out at the personnel of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENR) for their alleged failure to extend utmost assistance to barangay and municipal-based firefighting brigades to combat the proliferation of forest first within the Mount Data National Park that has negated efforts of local residents to preserve and protect the environment.
Akilit expressed disappointment over the failure of concerned government agencies to deploy their personnel and forest guards to help put out forest fires in the town and the nearby municipalities that already gutted hundreds of hectares of forests over the past several days.
“We should have the heart for the protection and enhancement of our dwindling forest cover. We should not allow it to be lost because we were remised in our duties to do so. We are doing our part in the local level but we cannot feel the presence of personnel of concerned government agencies having programs on environmental preservation and protection,” Mayor Akilit stressed.
He said he had been personally contacting concerned DENR officials relative to the proliferation of forest fires in the municipality over the past several days for them to deploy some of their forest guards to help put off the fires but he never received any response from them which only indicates their lack of concern for the preservation and protection of the remaining forests in the locality.
Akilit emphasized the municipal government with the support of the barangays and other stakeholders have been doing their part in trying to improve the forest cover in their respective areas of jurisdiction through various regreening efforts but there are unscrupulous individuals who continue to inflict damage to the state of the environment through various man-made activities that tend to affect the state of the forest.
Mayor Akilit called on CENRO personnel to visit the municipality and other nearby towns to survey the areas affected by the forest fires in order for them to realize how the local officials and residents, who are directly involved in efforts to preserve and protect the forest reservation, feel about what happened.
Bauko which is composed of 22 barangays has a total land area of at least 18,000 hectares mostly located within the jurisdiction of the Mount Data forest reservation.
Akilit recommended to concerned agencies and stakeholders participating in forest conservation and protection efforts to establish fire lines within the metes and bounds of the barangays and municipalities by planting species with broad leaves to serve as fire lines to prevent the rapid spread of fires to undisturbed forests within the Mount Data forest reservation.
Akilit has been a staunch advocate of environmental preservation and protection even before entering politics, especially during his term as the regional manager of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in the Cordillera.
The local chief executive said part of the areas that were ravaged by the recent forest fires were those planted under the National Regreening Program (NGP) over the past several years thereby casting doubts on the performance of the concerned government agencies in terms of reforesting barren mountains provincwide.
By Dexter A. See