BAGUIO CITY– The new leadership of the Cordillera office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-CAR) welcomed the filing by the municipal government of Bauko, Mountain Province and religious leaders in the locality of a writ of kalikasan against the municipal governments of Buguias and Mankayan in nearby Benguet and commercial vegetable farmers in the said towns to sustain the preservation and protection of the 5,000-hectare Mount Data National Park and in the case of Mount Pulag if there are interested stakeholders to initiate the legal action.
Engr. Ralph Pablo, DENR-CAR officer-in-charge, said the upcoming filing of the writ of kalikasan for the preservation and protection of the Mount Data forest reservation from being ravaged by commercial vegetable farm owners will be supported by the agency so that the court will outline the mandatory obligations of concerned parties so as not to inflict more damage to the headwaters of four major river systems in the Cordillera and Northern Luzon.
“WE welcome the filing of the writ of kalikasan for the preservation and protection of our watersheds. We should not go this far if concerned stakeholders were able to exercise their respective obligations to preserve and protect the forest reservations,” Pablo stressed.
Pablo cited the writ of kalikasan will definitely provide the appropriate direction to be undertaken for the protection of the region’s remaining forest cover for the benefit of the present and future generations of Cordillerans and even lowlanders who rely on the watersheds upstream as their major source of water.
According to him, the DENR-CAR is optimistic that the court will grant the prayed writ of kalikasan so that people will realize the importance of maintaining a good state of environment and for people living within the communities to cooperate with whatever programs and projects to be undertaken to improve the state of the environment in the said areas.
Earlier, Bauko Mayor Abraham Akilit and concerned religious leaders in the municipality already signed pertinent documents that will support the filing of the writ of kalikasan against the municipal officials of Buguias and Mankayan and hundreds of commercial vegetable farm owners who continue to encroach into the critical portions of the Mount Data watershed using mechanized units of equipment which is now inflicting heavier damages to the current state of the environment.
For her part, Emerita T. Albas, Superintendent of the Mount Pulag National Park, said concerned government agencies and host communities have been closely working together to sustain the biodiversity of Mount Pulag, the second highest mountain range in the country, from further deterioration.
Albas said if there are concerned stakeholders who will also initiate the filing of the writ of kalikasan for Mount Pulag, then they will welcome the said legal action provided that it would result to the upliftment of the state of the environment of the national park.
She disclosed the intrusion of commercial vegetable farms into critical portions of the watershed have been significantly reduced because of the presence of law enforcers and military personnel assigned to guard identified critical portions of the forest reservation but concerned government agencies and the host communities have to continue implementing more interventions to prevent further encroachments in the area. By Dexter A. See