DEPARTMENT of Environment and Natural Resources regional director Ralph Pablo will summon all barangay captains in Mt. Pulag.
Pablo said the meeting will be set the soonest to be able to air concerns and issues in the mountain classified as a National Park.
“We need a concerted community effort to protect Mt. Pulag,” Pablo said.
The DENR is reeling from a last week’s decision by the Benguet Provincial Prosecutor dismissing the case filed by the department alleging destruction of the forest.
Pablo said heightened community awareness is needed while village chiefs are urged to speak up on the rampant destruction of the mountain reservation due to expansion of garden in the area.
Mt. Pulag touches parts of Buguias and Bokod in Benguet, Kayapa in Nueva Vizcaya and Tinoc, Ifugao but 80 percent is within Kabayan.
Pablo said all bocaps in the area will be called in the meeting as the proliferation of vegetable gardens has been a constant problem for the department.
The National Park covers 11,550 hectares established to protect and preserve the natural features of the area such as its outstanding vegetation and wildlife. It belongs to Northern Luzon’s Cordillera Biogeographic Zone.
The DENR last week cried foul over the decision of Assistant Prosecutor Sheryl Anne Pacad- Cabantac which was approved by Andres Dondayao, Deputy Provincial Prosecutor when when personnel from the Kabayan based Mt. Pulag National Park of the DENR apprehended Eva Palad–Og, Cleia Lamsis and Sina Taynan while in the act of clearing portions of the mountain.
Pablo criticized the swiftness of the decision of the Prosecutors Office as the case was dismissed within a 24-hour period for lack of probable cause saying the alleged destruction of forestland is purposely for kaingin system, which is primarily defined and penalized by PD 705.
Mt. Pulag, the highest peak in Benguet Province, at 2,924 meters is a favorite trek for climbers who want to experience the sunrise at its peak, which has also brought problems in its carrying capacity with the deluge of trekkers.
The surrounding areas in the Pulag reservation are also in the verge of being encroached with gardens setup by local farmers.