By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CTY — Forester and Upper Agno River Watershed Area Team (UARWAT) section chief Onofre Castro told the members of the media that the watershed along Agno River in Bokod, Benguet is threatened as illegal loggers and conversion of the forest into agricultural farms.
He said that there used to be 28 forest guards hired by the National Power Corporation (NPC) patrolling the watershed but unfortunately, 20 of them were laid off. He said they already submitted a request to the NPC to rehire the laid-off forest guards.
He added that with the eight remaining forest guards patrolling the whole of the watershed fall short as it needs continuous patrolling. NPC is maintaining the Ambuklao and Binga Hydro-electric plants in Bokod, Benguet.
Castro said they are appealing to the government line agencies like the Department of Environment and Natural resources (DENR), the local government of the municipalities of Bokod and Buguias and other stakeholders to help them in the protection and preservation of the watershed. “…and if we can’t stop these,” referring to the illegal logging and illegal conversion of forest lands into agricultural farms, “the watershed will be destroyed and the water will be gone,” he said.
According to Castro, he started working with the NPC-UARWAT in 1982 and he witnessed the degradation of the watershed. He said they filed cases before against the people caught illegally logging in the watershed area but they lost due to technicalities. # nordis.net