More forest guards in Davao Region needed

AN OFFICIAL from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Davao Region on Wednesday admitted difficulty in the implementation of a forest protection campaign due to lack of manpower.

In the wake of this development, the agency opened more positions for forest ranger to strictly implement the campaign, dubbed as Bantay Lasang.

Victor Billiones, chief of DENR-Davao Region Enforcement Division, said they need more forest rangers to intensify presence of forest guards in the mountain areas of the region.

"Hindi talaga kaya ng current manpower namin. As of now, 200 lang ang ating forest rangers but we have opened additional 500 positions for our operations," Billiones told reporters during the AFP-PNP press conference held at the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) Wednesday morning.

But these additional forest rangers are still not sufficient enough to effectively protect the remaining forests of the region, Billiones said.

"We need to preserve what's left in our forest," he said.

Billiones also clarified that even the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) are allowed to enter into "short time contracts" with DENR Davao Region as forest rangers.

Billiones said that there are eight lumads from Talaingod and Kapalong who are already employed as forest rangers.

"We wanted to punish those behind these illegal logging activities in our forest areas," he added. (KRP)

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