IN A bid to protect Mount Sto. Tomas Forest Reserve in Tuba, members of the Benguet Provincial Board have given a favorable review on the ordinance for its conservation.
The ordinance provides guidelines for the conservation of Mt. Sto Tomas Forest Reserve authored by Tuba Councilors Noel Saguid, Arnulfo Milo, Jason Balting, Joshielle Ruth Bancilo, Jerome Palaoag, and Gloria Paus.
Among the prohibited acts include conduct of business; construction of infrastructure projects; expansion of agricultural activities; application of permits; application of tax declarations; cutting of trees; and other acts that is detrimental and destructive of the natural resources.
Penalties include P2,500 fine for first offense with warning of possible imprisonment in the succeeding violations and P2,500 with imprisonment of not less than one month and not more than six months upon the discretion of the court for succeeding offenses.
At least P500,000 will be appropriated for the implementation of the local government unit programs, projects, and activities that will ensure the protection and conservation of the natural resources.
The new ordinance underscored a clearance required from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) prior to the conduct of programs, projects, and activities in the forest reserve.
“Pursuant to the decision promulgated by the Court of Appeals on May 6, 2018 on the case of petition to grant a Writ of Kalikasan, a petition filed by Carlito Cenzon, et al Case vs Nicasio Aliping Jr. et.al a clearance from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources be obtained before any PPAs conducted within the forest reserve,” the law states.
The municipality, through the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (Menro) and the Municipal Planning and Development Office must cooperative with DENR-CAR on their plan for the forest reserve.
Benguet also underscored the participation of Barangays Camp 4, Barangay Camp 3, Tabaan Sur, Tabaan Norte and Poblacion, Indigenous Peoples, farmers, residents and other stakeholders in the preparation of the plan which will incorporate the protection and recreation forest within the forest reserve, added the approved law.
Proclamation No. 581 series of 1940 establishing Santo Tomas Forest Reserve for forest protection, timber production and aesthetic purposes a parcel of the public domain situated in the municipality.