THE Bantay Bukid forest guards noted that disposable face masks are among the many discarded non-biodegradable waste they regularly find and collect along the banks of the Panigan-Tamugan Watershed.

During a river clean-up drive done by the Bantay Bukid forest guards on November 26, 2021, the most common waste found along the river banks were disposable face masks, junk food wrappers, and shampoo and soap bar wrappers.

“Karon lagi na pandemya, daghan kayo mask makita diri bale 45 kabuok naa karon (During the pandemic we saw that there were a lot of face masks being collected. Today we collected 45),” said Allen Roy Cordero, one of the Bantay Bukid forest guards.

He said Bantay Bukid is responsible for the monthly clean-up drives in the watershed where they conduct brand auditing of the different plastic wastes they collect.

The data collected during brand auditing are then submitted by the Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (Idis) to the International Waste Coalition where they consolidate the data.

Yvette Balayon, of the Knowledge Management of Idis, said the purpose of brand auditing is to alert capitalist giants regarding the different wastes they produce.

Idis coordinates with Bantay Bukid forest guards for clean-up drives, reforestation, and water monitoring at the Panigan-Tamugan river site in order to protect the next watershed of Davao City.

Lemuel Manalo, Idis program coordinator, said they are urging their partners and stakeholders from the Watershed Management Council from the local government unit to urgently address the ongoing issues at the river site.

“Kining watershed dinhi, halos tanan kay conservation zone sa atoang zoning map of Davao city (Most of the watershed is within the conservation zone based on the zoning map of Davao City),” said Manalo. “Environmental critical area at the same time, bawal gyud diri ang prohibited land uses.”

According to Manalo, the current water resource zones of the city in barangay Dumoy and Cabantian are all underground water resources, which are susceptible to vulnerabilities such as seepage and seawater intrusion.

“Dapat dili mag depend ang coastal cities sa groundwater kay mag subside siya (Coastal cities should not depend on groundwater because it is running out),” Manalo added. “Ipa-recharge pud nato balik ang mga aquifers (We have to allow the aquifers to recharge).”