THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources Cordillera (DENR-CAR) has completed the general management plan for the Mount Santo Tomas forest reservation.
The plan was created by members of a council, identifying specific areas which may be touched and preserved.
In the weekly “Talakayan sa Environment Code” radio forum, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources officer Carlos Arida said the management plan has been submitted to their central office for funding and implementation.
On March 12, the Mount Santo Tomas Management Council is set to meet to identify the performance of compliance by respondents on the standing order of the Supreme Court on the restrictions within the forest reserve.
“The Temporary Environment Protection Order or TEPO does not state for the residents to leave the area but what we are implementing is a stop to the expansion. We have received information that many outsiders are being included in the area which we want to regulate, we respect the NCIP (National Commission for Indigenous People) if there are any claimant and we want to be compliant with the order of the Supreme Court,” Arida said.
The management plan conceptualized by the 15-member council aims to instill strict protection of the identified no-touch zone to prevent illegal cutting of trees and encourage planting of more trees to protect the environment at Mount Santo Tomas.
“We respect that there are agricultural areas at Mount Santo Tomas and what we want is for it not to expand its agricultural activities being one of the order ps of the courts,” the Penro head stated.
The 15-member council also created programs needed within the area of Mount Santo Tomas while awaiting for the lifting of the TEPO as the council have signed a memorandum of agreement which will look forward for a holistic implementation of the management plan.
The Community Environment and Natural Resources Office have recently process the ground routing which identifies the agricultural areas, eco-tourism sites, and the areas where to put up souvenir shops at Mount Santo Tomas.
The management plan dictates the direction in implementing the management program where it would cover the division on what the multi-use zone and strict zone are.
Under the multi-use zone, it identifies the eco-tourism site, agricultural site, aside from identifying the areas which maybe touched and managed by the communities in the said area.
The Supreme Court issued a TEPO after then Baguio City Bishop Carlito Cenzon and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas led people of Tuba, Benguet, and San Fabian, Pangasinan in filing a petition seeking a Writ of Kalikasan and Writ of Continuing Mandamus.
Penro, however, is open to considering the request of the Municipality of Tuba to have tourism-related activities at the reservation area.