Benguet Bantay Gubat lists hotspots-A A +A
Friday, June 6, 2014
MANKAYAN, Benguet -- Bantay Gubat team here has identified problem areas for forest protection.
Leonardo Pio, head of the forest guards, said the municipalities of La Trinidad, Tuba, Tublay, Kibungan and Sablan are top problem areas being patrolled by the 38 – man Bantay Gubat team.
Pio said Mount Pulag and Santo Tomas are part of the most problematic areas which the team patrols and tries to prevent illegal activities.
The Bantay Gubat team is composed of former Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army members turned forest patrol guards who have been under the employment of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources since last year.
In the province, there are 38 members who have been absorbed by the DENR since July of last year. Out of the group there have been a dozen who have been renewed by the agency.
CPLA members who were not part of the AFP integration program have been assigned to work as forest guards for the DENR or be part of livelihood projects distributed all over the region, divided into the 1,200 recognized CPLA members.
Pio said the tasks of the team are not easy which includes patrolling vast areas of forests without vehicles, radios and equipment. Firearms are also not allowed to be carried by the guards.
Information dissemination campaigns are also carried out by the Bantay Gubat teams, as well as public consultations on the effects of kaingin and the collection of indigenous forest seeds for regeneration and recording, collection of wildlings and the forest nursery operations.
Pio said the Benguet group of forest guards found work not only in the forests but also in the Environment Office with members able to facilitate geo-tagging and office work.
Pio said eventually the team will need an increase in budget as needs for forest protection are many. The initial funding for forest guards was set at P864,000, each Bantay Gubat guard receives a salary of P8,000 a month from the DENR.
Pio tags communication needs like a service phone or radio as well as transportation needs in patrolling the forests are at the topmost needs of the team.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on June 07, 2014.