KAINGIN or slash and burn farming was cited as the major cause of forest fires in Benguet Province.
Edgardo Flor, Benguet Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro) officer–in-charge, said incidents of uncontrolled fires in forested areas of the province was caused by kaingin and appealed to the stakeholders to stop burning forest lands.
“On the part of DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources), they should limit (burning forest) once they occupied in the area they should not further expand to the extent of burning how many hectares of our forests,” Flor added in a media interview on Thursday.
The Cordillera Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council led by Office of Civil Defense director Albert Mogol, DENR Cordillera director Ralph Pablo, Bureau of Fire Protection, line agencies and Philippine Air Force conducted Rapid Damage Assessment and Needs Analysis on Wednesday.
Flor said from the assessment conducted a damage a total of 1,049 hectares of forest land have been razed with estimated damage cost of P2 million.
“We conducted survey for affected forest fires, unfortunately, its increasing with ongoing forest fires (on Wednesday) in Itogon, and two municipalities,” he added.
Flor stated DENR personnel were earlier tasked to assess the area and for the possibility of filing cases against perpetrators.
However, most of the cases earlier filed were dismissed because the suspects are not caught on the act and no person coming out to witness and give information.
In order to avoid wide forest razed, the barangay captains are trained to be frontliners for the conduct of barangay brigade highlighting the importance of information education campaign to inform the community for the protection of forest.
The DENR official added since January of 2020, nine municipalities in the province have recorded forest fires with Kabayan and Bakun having the largest forest razed while the towns of Kapangan, Sablan and Kibungan recorded zero forest fires.