By JOSEPH GREGORIO
BAGUIO CITY — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources Cordillera (DENR) appealed to anti-illegal drug operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Arm to ensure the safety of trees before setting fire to marijuana plantations.
Director Ralph Pablo of DENR Cordillera appealed to anti-illegal drug operatives during the Regional Peace and Order Council meeting on June 24.
Pablo said that during a marijuana eradication operation by PDEA and the 2nd Company Provincial Mobile Force of the PNP personnel last March in Barangay Loccong, Tinglayan, Kalinga they burned P70 million worth of uprooted marijuana plants. He said the fire spread to a pine reforestation site under the National Greening Program (NGP) about 100 meters away.
According to the DENR-CAR chief, reportage on the damage caused by the incident to their reforestation was insufficient.
Andy Nago-i, chair of the Kalinga Provincial Peace and Order Council said the enforcers failed to control the burning of marijuana causing it to spread to different directions. He revealed that the fire razed 23 hectares with approximately 1,000 Pine tree saplings. He said that it took residents around two days to put out the fire.
Ngao-i blamed the members of the Barangay Anti-Drug Council (Badac) of Loccong for failing to ensure the protection of grasslands or trees during the operations. He said the Badac failed to identify a place to burn the confiscated marijuana where they can easily control the fire.
Ngao-i requested the DENR for pine tree seedlings to replace the ones razed by the fire.
Pablo said that they are still determining if there are enough pine tree seedlings available to restore the area. However, he stressed that those who caused the fire at the reforestation area should be the ones to replace the seedlings.
Pablo said the annual cost of planting and maintaining pine reforestation areas is approximately around Php 10,000 per hectare. # nordis.net / Photo courtesy of PROCOR