By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Soldiers from the 51st Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army are now deployed at the foot of Mt. Pulag to help stop illegal logging and farm expansion in the area.
This after the local officials of Benguet requested the army to help protect the Mt. Pulag reservation during the provincial peace and order council meeting on October 3.
Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan said 19 soldiers are currently encamped at Bila, Bokod occupying a building identified by the local officials. He said the soldiers and the local police will secure the area. He said the troops will also help enforce forest laws particularly against illegal logging activities.
It can be recalled that Benguet officials sought the army’s help after the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) reported unabated illegal logging during farm expansion activities in Sitio Naubanan, Barangay Ekip, Bokod.
Fongwan said Naubanan is the water source of Bokod. He disclosed that on October 11, apart from identifying an area for the soldiers’ camp, they also turned over a water works project in Bokod. He added that the water works was connected to the water source in Naubanan.
Earlier reports showed that a boundary dispute between Bokod and Kabayan stopped the relocation survey being conducted by the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) over the entire Pulag reservation. The survey aimed to delineate the area as part of the efforts to preserve and protect the remaining forested portions.
“While they do not agree with the boundary both municipality agree that Mt. Pulag should be preserved. So we are hopeful that they will come to an agreement,” Fongwan said. # nordis.net