Bantay Gubat will be deployed in barangays to help the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in protecting the forest.
The newly created multi-sectoral Mamburao Forest Protection Council (MFPC) has reaffirmed their commitment during their second meeting, February 26, to protect the remaining and existing forestry areas within the jurisdiction of the Municipality of Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro.
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Held at Talabaan Barangay Hall and hosted by Barangay Chairman Albert Cortuna, MFPC was officially organized last January 28, facilitated by the Monitoring and Enforcement Section of CENRO – Sablayan Coordination Office led by MES Chief Fe A. Raguindin.
Primarily, its creation is directed towards curbing out illegal logging, forest fires, and kaingin activities which destroy the natural ecosystem, at the same time threatening the source and quality of potable water for the community.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) admitted they could hardly come to terms in protecting forestry areas on their own due to lack of manpower and will now utilize the strength and support of the community.
Hot Spot Barangay
While the Municipality of Mamburao consists of fifteen (15) barangays, only eight (8) of them were identified as hot spots, having forestry lands in their area. These barangays include:
Brgy. Poblacion 8 was included because of its mangrove areas. Previous assessment revealed that its quality is already deteriorating in the last couple of years due to the influx of squatting residents.
Barangays with no forestry area are to form part of the check point enforcement activities.
Reviewing the minutes of the first meeting, one of things discussed is the appointment of Bantay Gubat in hot spot barangays, the number of which is based on their estimated forestry area.
Here are the number of Bantay Gubat to be assigned per hot spot barangay:
- Brgy. 8 – 1
- Brgy. Talabaan – 6
- Brgy. Tayamaan – 6
- Brgy. San Luis – 6
- Brgy. Balansay – 6
- Brgy. Fatima – 4
- Brgy. Tangkalan – 6
- Brgy. Payompon 4
Accordingly, the barangays themselves will have the authority to appoint their own Bantay Gubat. The Council agreed that Bantay Gubat should come from the area where forestry lands are. This is to ensure their presence and report suspicious activities immediately.
They are to receive P3,000.00 in allowance every month.
Meanwhile, Kap. Cortuna shared the criteria he considered in choosing his Bantay Dagat. According to him, he chose those who are not in any way involved with wood and lumber trading. He said he is concerned about the possibility of them being in collusion with illegal logging activities.
Aside from the target Bantay Gubat’s evident conviction to help protect the environment, Kap. Cortuna also appointed those living near the entry and exit points of his barangay were illegally cut lumbers may be transported.
MES Chief Raguindin, on the other hand, stated that the basic requirements should include Barangay Clearance, Police Clearance, and Personal Data Sheet (PDS). These documents will also be submitted to their central office and form part of the program’s database.
Raised Issues During Second Meeting
According to her, the Council may identify plans, programs, and objectives during meetings. But results and accomplishments should be on top of everything. And such should be the one reported to the Council.
She added that the protection of the environment covers from forest to reef. There exists a domino effect down to the marine environment for every destructive activity perpetrated in the upland.
“Alam naman natin ang kahalagahan ng puno. Hindi na natin maiibalik yan kapag naputol na.“Shella Santiago
Meanwhile, Kap. Cortuna called the attention of DENR to be more proactive in responding to calls from people or the barangays concerning suspicious logging activities.
Days after the Council’s first meeting, barangay officials spotted logs being transported near the area of Pagbahan River. Kap. Cortuna said he first reported it to Coast Guard, then to DENR. But until the following day, no one came to check or to investigate the incident.
“Frontliners kami kung tutuusin. Kasi sa aming barangay nangyayari ang mga ganyan. Pwede kaming mag-apprehend. But we also need your protection and action.”Talabaan Kap. Albert Cortuna
As per Kap. Cortuna’s accounts, the value of said logs amounts to around P114,000.00 or some 1,300 board feet.
He then demanded DENR’s immediate action on similar incidents.
MES Chief Raguindin responded by informing the Council that a new directive has been given to them to remain on-duty 24/7. She added they’ve set up a Quick Response Team (QRT) consisting of six (6) members with Mr. Noel Salgado as Team Leader.
“Alam na nila yan. They will be on duty specially sa gabi.”MES Chief Fe Raguinding
Meanwhile, Kap. Susan Bondad of Brgy. 6 relayed that she also noticed woods and lumbers being transported at a furniture shop in her area. ABC President and Brgy. 3 Chairman Mel Ramirez then suggested not to issue barangay permits be unless they have satisfied the requirements by DENR and other concerned agencies.
Kap. Ramirez also added that someone came to his office asking for a barangay permit to operate a furniture shop which he refused.
The Council members also asked that Bantay Gubat be trained first before deploying them.
MES Raguindin assured everyone that the Forest Protection Council will be a check and balance mechanism. Barangays are encouraged to report even those working with DENR and other government agencies suspected of illegal logging involvement.
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Furthermore, Kap. Benchito Umali raised his bamboo nursery and planting program in Brgy. Tangkalan in the hope of getting assistance from the DENR. He said he’s projecting to have his barangay’s river banks planted with bamboos since they’ve started a bamboo furniture livelihood program with an organized group in his barangay.
MES Chief Raguindin took note of it and suggested that they will help in identifying river bank areas suitable for bamboo planting. She however cautioned that open areas will be considered first. A Memorandum of Agreement is needed in case of private lands near or along river banks.
Other Barangay Chairmen agreed it will be good for all barangays to have the same project.
Council Resolution For Funding
Upon recommendation and approval by the Council, a Resolution shall be submitted to Mayor Tria requesting to allocate the amount of P1,140,000.00 for the allowance of thirty-eight (38) Bantay Gubat distributed among identified hot spot barangays in the Municipality of Mamburao.
The requested fund will cover the allowance of Bantay Gubat from March to December 2021.
At this point, Kap. Benchito Umali asked MES Chief Raguinding for DENR’s additional fund since P3,00.00 is too small for a monthly allowance, considering the present economic situation. Raguinding however said such is currently not included in their agency’s fund.
Working also as Mamburao’s Budget Officer, Shella Santiago said such Resolution is needed for Bantay Gubat to be institutionalized just like Bantay Dagat. It will pave the way for the former to be included in the LGU’s annual budget.
MENRO Santiago will present the Resolution to Mayor Tria on Tuesday.