Bauko folk seek environment protection order

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BAUKO, Mountain Province – Concerned residents in the municipality expressed alarm over the alleged serious delays in the filing of complaint by the environment department for the issuance of the required permanent environment protection order (PEPO) to prevent the massive deforestation of portions of the Mount Data watershed in the boundaries of the town with Buguias in Benguet, and Tinoc and Hungduan towns of Ifugao that will result to more catastrophic disasters in the lowland communities in the future.

Sources, who opted not to be identified for security reasons, questioned the environment department for considering the filing of the environment case in Buguias, Benguet by virtue of the agency’s cadastral survey when the area being sought to be protected is within the ancestral domain of Bauko which might have an implication on the possible decision of judicial bodies on the case.

The sources disclosed that in the town’s boundary with Tinoc, Ifugao, over 2,000 hectares of previously forested area were already converted to commercial vegetable farms and that the deforested area is getting closer to the Palapal watershed which is the remaining untouched forested area within the town’s area of jurisdiction.

Further, they added that the delays in the filing of the complaint with the appropriate judicial body is contributing to the continuing destruction of the remaining forested areas in the tri-boundaries of Mountain, Province, Benguet and Ifugao which could contribute to far more devastating calamities in the future once the remaining forest cover in the Mount Data watershed are converted to commercial vegetable farms.

According to them, the environment case should be filed in the proper forum for appropriate orders to be issued to prevent the massive destruction of the remaining forested area within the Mount Data watershed.

The Palapal portion of the Mount Data watershed serves as the only untouched portion of the reservation and the source of water for the residents in nearby communities but the same is now being threatened by the rapid expansion of commercial gardens from the neighboring towns in Ifugao and Benguet.

The sources also criticized personnel of the environment department assigned in the area for their alleged failure to regulate the expansion of the commercial vegetable gardens from the nearby communities thereby posing a threat to the untouched portion of the watershed which will surely have a negative effect on the environment and the supply of water for villages within the area.

The concerned sectors in the municipality expressed their all-out support to the efforts of various government agencies and the municipal government to preserve and protect the untouched portions of the Palapal watershed and the recouping of the forest cover of the Mount Data watershed to prevent the occurrence of more calamities in the lowland areas.

The sources warned that what happened to the Cagayan and Isabela areas at the height of Typhoon Ulysses will be worse if the forested communities will not be enhanced and protected by the inhabitants. By HENT