P18.4-million fine for Mt. Pulag hikers

HIKERS who caused a fire in Mount Pulag last month may have to pay a P18.4-million fine and face imprisonment.

Lawyer Rainer Laita of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Cordillera said the agency has filed criminal charges last month with a supplement affidavit received February 14 by the Benguet Prosecutor’s Office for violations of provisions of the Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines against the seven mountaineers.

If found guilty, the hikers may be asked to pay P18.4 million and serve imprisonment for six years.

In the assessed and evaluated map approved by the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro), "the amount of forest charges is without prejudice to the cost of rehabilitation cost," stated in the supplemental affidavit filed by Penro-Benguet employee Teber Dionisio.

DENR procedural guidelines, pursuant to the joint DENR-DAR-PCSD implementing rules and regulations of the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act, contains the list of amount of plant species like of Dwarf Bamboo of which the DENR also based its computation.

On January 20, a huge grassfire happened at the camp site no. 3 of Mt. Pulag after one of the camper’s butane-fueled portable stove exploded.

Provincial Deputy Prosecutor Andres Gondayao said they are now waiting for the counter affidavit of the hikers.
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