Forest guards to ensure no insurgents

(Photo by Ralph Lawrence G. Llemit)

EVEN with a serious task at hand of reporting environmental violations, the Bantay Bukid forest guards will now also ensure that Davao City’s next water source will not be invaded by any insurgent groups.

Bantay Bukid volunteers are living in indigenous communities who are recognized by the city government to regularly patrol the city’s watersheds to report environmental violations.

At present, there are 70 Bantay Bukid volunteers deployed at the Panigan-Tamugan watershed, the city’s next source of potable water through the Davao City Bulk Water Supply Project (DCBWSP).

Angel Sumagaysay, Davao City Public Safety and Security Command Center (PSSCC) deputy head, said the forest guards will be helpful in monitoring insurgent presence although the city has not yet received any reports near the water source.

“Unta dili gyud (nila hilabtan atong watershed). Pati sila muinom man og tubig. Maong awhag namo sa atong mga brothers and sisters na naligaw og landas, unta ayaw intawon hilabti atong watershed (I hope they will not dare touch our watersheds because everyone will be affected, including them, as they also need water for drinking. That is what I’m appealing to our fellow brothers and sisters in conflict with the law),” Sumagaysay said.

Panigan-Tamugan Watershed Protection (PT-Wapro) Group program facilitator Evelyn Cubero said despite the efforts, which poses risk to their livers, the Bantay Bukid volunteers still get minimal support.

Cubero said these volunteers lack Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other monitoring gadgets to be used during inspections.

“Minimal kaayo ang support given to Bantay Bukid volunteers, despite nga dako kaayo ilang role sa pag-sustain sa atong Panigan-Tamugan river (Our Bantay Bukid volunteers have a very minimal support, despite contributing a huge role in the sustainability of our Panigan-Tamugan river),”she said.

Sumagaysay, meanwhile, said the city is looking into adding more volunteers, adding that the local government is also planning to tap the barangay officials to help them in monitoring the watershed.

“Sana ma-merge natin sila and maging part sila sa monitoring sa’ting environmental protection, since isa na sa ilang mandate sa function nila as barangay tanods (I hope they will be part in our efforts in environmental protection, since it is also included in their mandates as barangay officials),” Sumagaysay said.

DCBWS is expected to provide 300 million liters of water consumption once it fully operates in the first quarter of 2021. It is a project of the Davao City Water District (DCWD) and Apo Agua Infrastractura, Inc. (AAII). (RGL)


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