The Cagayan Valley Regional Environmental Law Enforcement Council (RELEC) will mobilize residents in hot spots within the Sierra Madre ranges as “bantay bakir” or forest protection officers.
This is one of the strategies discussed by the council composed of law enforcement agencies, religious and media sectors, in its virtual meeting held on April 13.
In the forest protection plan presented by Enforcement Chief Joel Daquioag of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Barangay Bantay Kalikasan shall be organized in all identified sources of timber poachers in coordination with the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
Regular meetings with village chiefs and intensified information, education and communication activities among local communities within the identified recurring hot spots will also be conducted.
According to Forester Daquioag, the identified recurring hot spots are in the municipalities of Pamplona, Sta. Ana, Lal-lo, Baggao and Peñablanca in Cagayan; San Pablo, Tumauni, San Mariano and Palanan in Isabela; and Nagtipunan and Diffun in Quirino.
DENR Regional Executive Director Gwendolyn Bambalan, RELEC chair, has called on the council for an aggressive stance on forest protection.
“We have to cut the route from the source to the market. We need to stop the cutting at source,” Director Bambalan said as she underscored the tall order of environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to strengthen surveillance operation to prevent the cutting of trees rather than apprehending the cut lumbers.
The regional environment chief also requested the uniformed officials who are members of the council to prepare their respective tactical operations plans against destructive environmental activities.
As a strategy, the DENR will closely coordinate with the Philippine Army based in identified sources, routes and outlets of timber poachers. It will also monitor activities of suspected financers of timber smuggling and conduct counter surveillance with the assistance of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Regular seaboard patrol along the coastal areas of Region 2 shall also be conducted with the Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Navy and the PNP Maritime Group.
The Intensified Watershed Management, one of the key result areas (KRA) of the government’s Build Back Better initiatives, was discussed by Conservation and Development Chief Enrique Pasion during the meeting.
Under the said KRA led by the DENR, the intensification of forest protection and anti-illegal logging campaign is one of the interventions on Forest and Watershed Rehabilitation Program.#