BANTAY Bukid personnel, tasked in safeguarding Davao City’s watershed and forestry, were able to monitor violators who were not complying with the policies and environmental laws including banana plantations.
This just shows that they have been proactive in the protection of water sources in the uplands and enforcement of environment laws.
During Monday’s Kapehan sa Dabaw at The Annex Building, SM City Davao, Randy C. Legaspi, one of the Bantay Bukid or forest rangers in-charge in the monitoring and protection of the watershed from illegal activities, said that they have already submitted their report to the City Mayor’s Office and the Public Safety and Security Command Center (PSSCC) regarding the illegal actions that they have recorded in Barangay Gumalang.
According to Legaspi, the actions in the barangay involve improper waste disposal of raw materials from plantations going to Panigan River.
“There are challenges that we are facing because in some barangays, there are still lack of implementation on the Republic Act 9003 (An Act Providing for an Ecological Solid Waste Management). Despite our efforts to protect our forest and watersheds, if those plantations and the communities will not adhere to the provisions, it will affect the people in the lower area,” Legaspi said.
The Bantay-Bukid volunteers were trained by the Interface Development Interventions (Idis), a non-government organization advocating environment preservation.
They conduct monthly patrols to ensure that the City’s Watershed Code is enforced in the Panigan-Tamugan watershed, the city’s future source of potable water is protected from illegal activities.
They also monitored that in Tawan-tawan, drainages that pose potential threats to farmers trail to Panigan River during heavy rain. There were also illegal loggers present in the area.
Idis Executive Director Chinkie Peliño-Golle acknowledged the role of the forest guards in ensuring that Dabawenyos will have safe and quality source of water in the future that is free from contaminants such as chemicals coming from banana plantation in the upland.
“Our Bantay Bukid are our front-liners in watershed protection. They are the city’s representatives to ensure that our Watershed Code is enforced within the upland areas. If watersheds are protected and sustainably managed, Dabawenyos can be assured of its water, both in good quality and adequate supply,” she said.
The city-supported Bantay Bukid has also planted and maintained over 6,000 hills of Malibago, bamboo and other native tees in the area at the side of the riverbanks in order to prevent erosion as well as community-based water monitoring every month to assess water quality of Panigan River, along with river cleanups and information and education campaign with surrounding schools and communities.
The Bantay Bukid has observed that water from the upland going to Davao River has changed its color. From yellowish brown, it can be noticed that it has turned green which is the result of their continuing effort in protecting the environment.
Meanwhile, as the world celebrates the World Water Day celebration on March 22, with the theme, “Nature for Waters calls for the use of nature-based solutions to address water challenges, Peliño-Golle encouraged the public to take part in environment crusades to champion green initiatives such as tree planting or cleanup drive activities in their schools and companies.