By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Secretary Roy Cimatu of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said even if the fire that razed Mt. Pulag last January was an accident.
“Investigations showed that the fire was not intentional, it was an accident but it could have been prevented,” Cimatu said.
Cimatu added that the fire incident at Mt. Pulag is a learning experience. “We really learn from mistakes, because of the incident we became more strict on visitors,” he said.
“Especially during summer, I learned it is the most dangerous time because it would be difficult to stop a fire once it started,” he added.
Even if the fire was accidental, DENR Cordillera already filed a conplaint against the seven trekkers who caused the fire that razed 5.9 hectares of grassland covered with the rare dwarf bamboo. This bamboo species only grows in Mt. Pulag and Mt. Halcon here in the Philippines.
Director Ralph Pablo of DENR Cordillera said the courts instruted them to compute the cost of damages the fire caused. He said that the fine to be imposed on the trekkers will depend on the court’s decision.
The Forestry Code of the Philippines specified that fines for causing forest fires is eight times the total cost.
Atty. Rainier Laita of the legal department of DENR Cordillera said the fine would total to P18.4M following the Forest Code provision. He said the total cost of damage is P2.3M.
Pablo also explained that the management of Mt. Pulag cannot be devolved to a local government because it is covered by a proclamation. He added that the mountain also spans three provinces.
It can be recalled that officials of Kabayan town of Benguet expressed their intension to manage Mt. Pulag. # nordis.net